One Minute Critique: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel

| One Minute Critique, One Minute Critique Film

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Here we are again in Anderson’s idiosyncratic colourful and richly detailed world. Set in the fictional state of Zubrowka, the meat of The Grand Budapest Hotel focuses on the eponymous 1930s hotel’s charming, learned, but foul-mouthed concierge Gustave H, played as if he were born for the part by Ralph Fiennes. Gustave H provides excellent service, and himself, to his elderly wealthy clientele. When one dies and leaves him a valuable painting, a plot involving murder, theft and intrigue unfolds.

This film is laugh out loud funny. The cinema I enjoyed this in was filled with audible chuckles, oohs and aahs. Anderson has his (loyal) audience where he wants them.

Sugary confections reappear throughout the film, and are echoed in the distinctive colour scheme of the set and costumes. Like a fine layered patisserie cake the story unfolds: a story within a story, within a story. We dig into the delicious centre of Gustave H and his lobby boy Zero Moustafa’s tale.

But there is bitterness here as well as sweet humour and love. Encroaching from the monotone edges is war, and with it everything changes. I was unaware passports weren’t widely introduced in Europe until The Great War. The seismic shift from open borders to controlled and policed national identities left those already displaced by conflict, like Zero Moustafa, in a dangerous bureaucratic no mans land. With the deft touch of a master baker, Anderson reminds us that no matter how much sugar you enjoy in life, you can’t hide from the darkness when it bites.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: A masterpiece – I savoured every morsel. 4.5/5

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