GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.
Much to my surprise, I enjoyed this crazy, strange and surreal movie. Every part of it is so quirky and unusual that it almost seems an impossibility that it all managed to come together in a cohesive manner. By every part I do literally mean every part, from plot to characters to camera angles to scenery. Yet each strange piece came together to form a whole that is tangible and relatable.
You are introduced to the hotel from the very beginning and grow rather fond of it by the end in a nostalgic way because the hotel represents all the things that are no longer present in this world. The movie is set in an alternate Earth, allowing more creative freedom, but it could just have easily been real place that no longer exists. The colours, buildings and systems of transportation all feel slightly out of kilter due to the stunning artistic choices. Perhaps because everything is so out of place, nothing felt out of place.
Everything in The Grand Budapest Hotel is over the top, sitting on the fine line between normalcy and annoyance. The exaggeration both adds to the surrealness of the film and serves to simplify the plot by, in a sense, ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’. Overly ornate houses, villains clothes in black, outrageous sexual innuendos, and the dialogue – the dialogue is superb. The cadence and sentence structure flow is rich and ornate and is a pleasure to hear. The inner writer in me was somewhat spellbound and little in love. It’s almost worth watching the movie just to hear the characters, particularly Gustave, talk.
Plotwise, the movie is fun to watch with numerous crazy scenes and funny moments. Yet, hovering just out of reach beneath the action, are many commentaries and messages about so many things that to focus on everything going on below the surface would be quite a feat. It’s best to just keep these submessages (for want of a better word) in your periphery and focus on the wonderful plot that never lets up.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a movie I definitely recommend seeing.