FNE at Berlinale 2014: Competition: The Grand Budapest Hotel

    FNE at Berlinale 2014: Competition: The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson

    BERLIN: Fans of Wes Anderson rejoice. This might just be the film that he has been moving towards making since the beginning of his career. It works on every level and entertains as well as never ceasing to be a work of cinemagraphic art.

    The is the third time one of Andreson’s films has screened in the Berliale Competition with The Royal Tenenbaums and again in 2005 with The Life Acquatic and it’s his best yet.

    The film is a story within a story within a story which might get confusing in the hands of a less able director than Anderson but such is his discipline that he manages to pull it off and at the same time make it highly entertaining.   And there are a host of great stars playing flamboyant roles making each character a treat. One can just imagine how much fun the actors had playing these eccentric characters.

    The story starts out in 1985 with the recollections of a writer, played by Tom Wilkinson, telling how he came to stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968. At that time it was an almost abandoned ruin left to disintegrate in the heart of communist central Europe. As we are transported back to 1968 the writer played now by Jude Law is dining with the hotel’s owner, Zero Moustafa played by F. Murray Abraham who tells him the story of how he came to be the owner of the hotel.

    The story now moves even further back in history to the world of the Grand Hotel Budapest in its heyday in the 1930’s when it was a grand hotel of the old 1930’s spa variety full of chandeliers and red velvet. Zero now played by Tony Revolori is a young worker at the hotel under the guidance of Monsieur Gustave H. played with amazing flair by Ralf Fiennes. The film now gets into its main story and period and rolls out a group of stars playing wonderful characters against a mood and background that takes us back to an epoch we all have imagined in every Agatha Christie story but probably never really existed but we still feel a nostalgia for.

    Monsieur Gustave knows the secret desires of all his eccentric guests and does his best to fulfill them, especially the ladies.   The quirky Madame D, played by a greatly aged Tilda Swinton, bequeaths Gustave a valuable Renaissance painting. But her son Dimitri accuses Gustave of having murdered his mother and we move into the territory of the perfect 1930s period murder mystery with all its style, flair and eccentric characters and unlikely plots. Gustave ends up in prison but manages to get out and he recruits Zero to help him find the missing painting.

    It’s no surprise that Anderson based the spirit of the story on the work of Stefan Zweig a popular Austrian mystery whose work, mostly forgotten in the West now, was mostly set in Vienna in the years between WWI and WWII.   This is the film that just might bring Anderson into the box office mainstream but let’s hope it doesn’t spoil his unique touch.

    United Kingdom / Germany

    Director: Wes Anderson

    Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody