More noise than signal

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Framing devices aside, The Grand Budapest Hotel mainly concerns itself with the glory days of the now faded high end hotel, in-between World Wars, when it was staffed by the legendary concierge M. Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes. He’s more than happy to serve the needs of all guests, particularly, it would seem, lonely widows.

While showing newly hired lobby boy, Tony Revolori’s Zero Moustafa the ropes, events kick off in earnest when one widower dies, leaving Gustave a priceless painting in her will, to the abject disgust of her family. He is quickly framed for her murder, and aided by Zero and his girlfriend, Saoirse Ronan’s Agatha, he must escape from jail, and clear his name, all under the shadow of increasing militarisation.

A perhaps overly succinct summation for 100 exceptionally entertaining minutes, a sort of Wes Anderson does Agatha Christie without taking it altogether too seriously. It’s probably my favourite Ralph Fiennes performance – I don’t know if he’d agree, this isn’t stretching his dramatic chops all that much, but it shows a real ear for comic timing that I don’t believe I’d associated with him before and it’s as much of a pleasure to watch now as it was then.

In style I suppose it’s most similar to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – a shaggy dog story adventure with purposefully twee effects and entirely unlikely characters, and by this point in his arc you could be thinking that we’d seen enough of that sort of thing. We haven’t, and I’ll more than happily watch something like this every few years until the end of my days if Anderson sees fit to make them. For my money, Hotel takes everything good about The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and hones it to perfection. Sweet.