, 100 m., 2014
Ralph Fiennes (M. Gustave), F. Murray Abraham (Mr. Moustafa), Tony Revolori (Zero), Mathieu Amalric (Serge X.), Adrien Brody (Dmitri), Saoirse Ronan (Agatha), Willem Dafoe (Jopling), Edward Norton (Henckels), Léa Seydoux (Clotilde), Jeff Goldblum (Deputy Kovacs), Jason Schwartzman (M. Jean), Jude Law (Young Writer), Tilda Swinton (Madame D.), Harvey Keitel (Ludwig), Tom Wilkinson (Author), Bill Murray (M. Ivan), Owen Wilson (M. Chuck). Directed by Wes Anderson and produced by Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven M. Rales, Scott Rudin. Screenplay by Anderson & Hugo Guinness.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is, perhaps above all else, a film about intrusions. It is about the intrusion of war upon an otherwise peaceful world, and of its refugees upon a land to which they are strangers. It is about the intrusion of an interloper into a would-be grieving family’s lives. In the case of said interloper, it is even about the vulgar intruding into the otherwise elegant.
Take, for instance, the first scenes, in which a young girl goes to the statue of a man labeled “Author” and begins to read a book. The narration, by Tom Wilkinson, is first intruded upon by the image of the man himself seemingly reading his narration to the camera and then of a little boy shooting a BB handgun at the Author as he’s trying to explain his part in the story. This framing device is then intruded upon by another framing device involving a flashback to the 1960s in which a young “Author” (Jude Law) first visits the Grand Budapest Hotel and, with little help from the inattentive concierge (Jason Schwartzman), meets Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), the hotel’s reputed owner. This triggers the elongated flashback that will take up the bulk of the film’s scant 100 minute running time.
In said bulk, Ralph Fiennes plays Monsieur Gustave H., an only mildly effeminate (old) ladies’ man who runs the titular mountain estate by day and seduces lonely, elderly women by night. From his carefully crafted speech patterns to his royal purple wardrobe to his cologne, the aptly named L’Air de Panache, Gustave H. has cultivated a meticulous way about himself and navigates the film’s setting, a fictional middle-Eastern European country on the precipice of fascist occupation and war, walking on eggshells with remarkable self-possession and poise.
When one of Gustave’s lady friends, credited as Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), is found strangled to death, he is sent to prison and it is up to he, some cellmates and his own young lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) to bust out of the prison and find the real culprit. But then, this is an oversimplification of this film’s plot.