The Grand Budapest Hotel: Review

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I think if you are a fan of Wes Anderson films you will love this because it is as oddball and crazy as his other attempts. I’m not a follower of his work, I haven’t seen any of his films before so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for and I think that affected my reaction. To be honest, I only went because of the cast and because it had received great reviews.

Ralph Fiennes stars as concierge of the titular hotel, Gustave H, alongside his apprentice Zero, the lobby boy. They find themselves in trouble when an old, wealthy lady mysteriously dies and leaves him a valuable painting in her will. The lady’s family, headed up by Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Jopling (Willem Dafoe) are furious and are willing to kill those who stand in the way of the fortune. They set Gustave up for her murder and he goes to jail. Zero and his girlfriend Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) help him escape and they end up on the run from police and the lady’s family.

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I liked it and enjoyed the adventure. The story is told in a very unique way and I get the impression this is standard Wes Anderson. Fiennes carries the film and I couldn’t imagine anyone else in his shoes. It’s brilliant to see him doing something so different. He is famous for being a mean bastard, it’s so refreshing to see him be whimsical and hilarious. His character is ridiculous, a tad eccentric with a penchant for bedding old, wealthy women while coming across rather camp.

Besides Gustave, we don’t really get to know anyone else. The characters are more caricature than realistic. There are so many people that just pop up now and again. This is such a good cast but a lot of them are only onscreen for five minutes. Some of the recognisable faces include Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Lea Seydoux.

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The plot is a bit flimsy but it’s just a good old-fashioned caper that you need to suspend your belief and just roll with. If you keep thinking ‘well that’s not realistic’, you won’t enjoy because it isn’t supposed to be that. It’s meant to be fun and silly. Because of that, I was shocked with some adult scenes of fellatio and chopping off fingers as it was so unexpected. It feels like it could be a family film if it cut the murder and sex parts. Some of the CGI scenes are ropey but I think that’s the point.

Despite the title, a lot of time is spent away from the hotel with Gustave in prison or on a journey to find answers with Zero. The pacing is very quick and the film is over before you realise. Occasionally the dialogue will be said so quickly, you’re not entirely sure what just happened but it’s straightforward enough to follow. I also found it strange that everyone maintained their accents so there was English, American and Irish all over the place. It was only brought to my attention when Ronan started speaking in her normal accent – why would an Irish person be in Eastern Europe?! It’s slightly jarring but most people probably wouldn’t even notice.

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This is silly, a lot of fun and full of crazy characters. You need to sit back and watch without a critical eye to realism. It is wonderful and enjoyable but I would probably recommend a DVD watch than the cinema.

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