Wes Anderson's entertaining filmmaking style clicks beautifully into focus for this comical adventure. Films like The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom are packed with amazing detail and terrific characters, but this movie is on another level entirely: fast, smart and engaging, packed with both silly slapstick and intelligent gags. And the sprawling cast is simply wonderful.
It's a story within a story within a story, as an author (Wilkinson) narrates the tale of his 1968 conversation as a young writer (Law) with ageing hotelier Zero (Abraham), who in turn recounts his life as a lobby boy in 1932. Young Zero (Revolori) learned his craft alongside legendary concierge Gustave (Fiennes) at the Grand Budapest Hotel somewhere in Middle Europe, and stuck by Gustave's side when he became embroiled in an inheritance battle with a spoiled heir (Brody) and his evil henchman (Dafoe). As things get increasingly nasty, Zero and his baker girlfriend (Ronan) help Gustave fight for justice, and when that doesn't work he helps orchestrate an elaborate prison escape. Meanwhile, war breaks out twice across Europe.
The double flashback structure makes this a film about the power of storytelling itself, and even more potent is the reminder that we need to remember the old ways, especially as the world changes around us. This simple idea is woven so cleverly into the DNA of the script that it continually takes our breath away, conveying the true importance of history and nostalgia. At the centre, Fiennes gives his best-ever performance, showing a real gift for comedy (who knew?) as he makes the bristly Gustave deeply likeable. His camaraderie with newcomer Revolori is priceless, as are the cameos from an array of Anderson veterans including Murray, Wilson and the always astonishing Swinton.
Continue reading: The Grand Budapest Hotel Review