The Grand Budapest Hotel

Year: 2014
Production Co: Scott Rudin Productions
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Wes Anderson
Producer: Scott Rudin/Wes Anderson
Writer: Wes Anderson/Hugo Guiness
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Tony Revolori, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzmann, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Léa Seydoux, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Fisher Stevens

Around the time this movie was first coming to everyone's attention, I was reminded of a funny online video where directors and typical projects are mashed up (ie Michael Bay does a Terrence Malick film, the Zucker Brothers do a Quentin Tarantino, etc).

One of the was 'Wes Anderson's Transformers', of robots sitting around drinking tea, looking straight into the camera with surprised looks and walking off holding hands while folk chamber music plays.

It was hilarious because the last thing you expect of Wes Anderson is action, so it was quite ironic that any Wes Anderson movie ends up with a shootout across the cavernous interior of a grand hotel. This is Anderson off the chain, given more scope than he's ever had before.

Ralph Fiennes is similarly off the chain as Gustave, the concierge of the titular establishment in a wartime fictional Eastern European country. It looks like he's having the best time he's had in years as the snooty, frenetic and short-tempered hero, snapping out hilarious insults and profanity as much as he is soliloquies.

He's the hero of the tale told by the hotel's owner Moustafa (Abraham) to a guest (Law) in the 60s, the near-empty Grand Budapest Hotel now on the verge of ruin and nothing like it's glamourous heyday.

Moustafa was just the lobby boy then, learning under the tutelage of Gustave, a master in the art of giving guests whatever they want – especially the rich old lady clients he makes his lovers.

When one of them (Swinton, the only cast member I didn't recognise) dies unexpectedly, Gustave is suspected of murdering her for her fortune. He goes on the run with the young lobby boy while a typically eclectic cast of Andersonians run amok after them.

Half the fun is spotting the Anderson regulars, and they're all here. You can tell he's been given far more money than he's ever had, and if I know Hollywood, one of producer Scott Rudin's edicts was to broaden the appeal beyond his usual esoterica. Hence there's a central love story, a comedy of errors plot and a very funny central performance by Fiennes.

If it had from the studio system we'd be praising it's left-of-centre-ness, but Anderson's coming from the other direction – bringing his branded kookiness to a studio film. Either way the result is quite unlike anything you've ever seen before.

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