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The Grand Budapest Hotel


Year: 2014 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Wes Anderson 
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric  
An image from The Grand Budapest Hotel

Standing atop the mountains of (the fictional) Zubrowska like a huge tiered cake, the Grand Budapest Hotel of the 1960s is a place of solemn disrepair, having fallen on hard times in the midst of the Cold War. It is here that the aging owner Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) recounts the establishment’s history to a curious young writer (Jude Law) - and what a strange history it is: an intriguing swirl of colourful characters, dirty deeds, and encroaching warfare, all centred on the magnificent figure of ex-concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes).

Boxed within multiple frame narrations, Wes Anderson’s eighth feature film sweeps along at a breathless pace, rapidly hopping from encounter to encounter with frenzied vim. The lean runtime is fit-to-bursting with loquacious patter and increasingly daft set-pieces, among them a hilarious mountaintop chase which concludes with some of Fiennes’ best swearing this side of In Bruges.

Speaking of, Fiennes headlines an exquisite sprawling cast, himself turning in an utterly sumptuous performance as M. Gustave. Fiennes has tremendous fun occupying the opulent character of Gustave, capturing his rigid mannerisms and silky dialogue to perfection. Newcomer Tony Revolori also charms as the young Zero: a lobby boy in-training whose graciousness and quick wit stand him as a fine successor to Anderson’s previous child protagonists.

The Grand Budapest Hotel could well be read as a love letter to a bygone era, but Anderson is careful not to let his tale slip into fairy-tale soapiness, tinting its pastel-coloured settings and snowy vistas with the occasional splashes of blood, albeit delivered with cartoonish flourishes. Consequently, the film’s easy charm and humour is leavened with legitimate intrigue, as the plot unfurls with increasingly expansive results.

Immaculately presented in the requisite formation of precise arrangements, twee set designs and deadpan performances, this film could perhaps be coined as the archetypal Anderson vehicle. As such, it may grate on less inclined viewers, but for those who have already embraced the director’s signature quirks and whimsies, The Grand Budapest Hotel is as delicious and dazzling as the wares of Mendl’s bakery.

Michael Perry

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Summer Term (digital)