Grand Budapest Hotel: Dream life of a lost Europe

For some Wes Andersons’ films may be a bit like marmite. You either love them or hate them. Anderson has a distinctive style. They are immediately recognizable. They are films of the rarest kind these day: auteur in every aspect of their production but which attract big name actors and command enough of an audience to justify distribution deals within mainstream circuits. I’ve wanted to see The Grand Budapest Hotel [TGBH] for a while. Its recent slew of BAFTA nominations spurred me on to finally doing so. It’s madcap, whimsical, stylish and thoughtful. There are outstanding performances from everyone – bit player to key role, from A-lister to a child on a screen debut with a tight plot line that revels in farce –  royally served by pin sharp performances and moment after moment of meticulously enacted screen action. TGBH simultaneously evokes a melancholy backward gaze to a Europe of old. A Fin de siecle Europe of manners and grandeur already in passing – of wistful, poetic time as we might perceive it, handed down through literature, politics, manners, music, art and war. And much of this is personified in the main character of M. Gustave played with acrobatic precision by Ralph Fiennes. Gustave is a man of contradictions: a refined, etiquette obsessed concierge who slips into coarse language under pressure; a self interested hedonist in daily life but in the exceptional circumstances of the plot displays courage, kindness, nobility and charity. Throughout he is a man of wit, humour and poetry. Not unilke Anderson himself. Perhaps the trick they are performing is not so disimilar either.  Smuggling some old world values into what can often seems to be a more compromised contemporary experience. TGBH will appeal to anyone who’s allowed themselves to be romanced by European culture from a time different from our own. Who’s ever fallen in love with a Europe of old seen through the dream life of stories.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s