Review: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (M) ****

INSPIRED by “The World of Yesterday”, the autobiographical memoir by Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), writer/director Wes Anderson brings his unique view of people and events to this combination of upper-crust manners and values with farce, fantasy and nostalgia.

In the early 1930s, concierge Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) rules a Grande Luxe Hotel on the top of an eastern European mountain.

In the 1960s, in an almost deserted dining room, Moustafa (F Murray Abraham) tells a writer (Jude Law) about his life as apprentice hotel lobby boy Zero (Tony Revelori) in 1932 and the hotel’s slow decay.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton

Wealthy lady guests, especially Madame D (Tilda Swinton, wearing ageing make-up reputed to have taken several hours to get right) valued Gustave’s boudoir talents. Madame D, found dead in suspicious circumstances, owned the hotel. The plot, leading Gustave and his apprentice through a string of adventures, develops when, to the fury of her son Dmitri (Adrian Brody), it transpires that Gustave, having pleasured her whenever she was in residence, is her sole heir.

Never allowing the subtle pungency of its perceptive observations to divert its constant flow of comedy, Anderson deftly guides the film among class distinctions, prison life, a jail-break, high life on a high mountain, hot pursuit on skis, the village patisseur’s daughter, political life, a severed head, a priceless painting, useful friends in high places and more.

Its intelligent humour applies a fresh gloss to familiar situations. A one-sheet poster in cinema foyers listing its great supporting cast could become a collector’s item.

 At Palace Electric and Hoyts from April 10

 

 

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