The Grand Budapest Hotel

This film went straight into my 'Favourite films of a All Time' category.

Now, usually straight after seeing a film in the cinema, I get all wrapped up in it and emotional and decide that:


and I have all these thoughts and ideas about it which I will chatter away about enthusiastically to anyone who will listen to me on the way home ....

and then when I get home, I calm down a bit, sleep and then realise the next morning that it wasn't as amazing as all that, really.

This is what I would call 'The Breakfast Movie Post-Mortem Discussion Revelation'.

Where, as I munch my toast and slurp on coffee, I start to unpick all the little discrepencies or decide that:   

"actually I didn't really like that actor all that much..."

Anyway, this one survived 'The Breakfast Movie Post-Mortem Discussion Revelation', where the revelation was simply that I still loved it.

It was going to be a more deep and long-lasting relationship that I would have with this film, rather than a brief fling to be embarrassingly chucked out the door the next morning to do the walk of shame back to where it came from.

So let me impart the short version of my ramblings with you, which may or may not make you want to go and see it for yourself:

The Grand Budapest Hotel film is full of absurdities and deliberate in-consistency, there is a certain purposeful unbelievable-ness and far-fetched-ness that can only come from a story being told by an unreliable narrator, but which adds to the charm of the whole thing.

It is a story within a story within a story, and has the hall-marks of hear-say and myth throughout.

But we grow to love the almost obvious inaccuracy of the tale, because it is just too entertaining and, as those much wiser before me have said: "You should never let the truth get in the way of a good story". 

It is told through a man who is recording a memoire/documentary about his time at the Grand Budapest Hotel. At the time of his stay, the hotel had already become decrepit, past-it, almost empty, and extremely odd.

This man begins to explain how he came to meet the owner of the hotel at that time, and how, over the course of a dinner, the owner explained the history of how the hotel came to be his.

Most of the story, however, is told during the time when the owner was still a lowly lobby boy called Zero at the hotel and in the care of his rather eccentric boss.

So we continue on this mad adventure, with larger-than-life characters and a suspicion that our main character (the aforementioned boss, Mr Gustav H. played by Ralph Finnes) is a complete fraud and entirely in the wrong - but he is presented as a lovable fool, so we take it all - or most of it - with a pinch of salt and good humour.

Mr Gustav H. upholds ridiculous and outdated high standards of social etiquette despite (or perhaps because of) very desperate situations, such as war and jail sentences. He is incredibly camp but seems to have a particular penchant for 'entertaining' elderly women that stay in the hotel.

Mr Gustav H's lobby boy (Zero) is in love with the girl who works at the bakery 'Mendls' which supplies the hotel with cakes, and she in the end becomes key to achieving Mr Gustav H and Zero's mission.

It is a classic Wes Anderson film and reminded me alot of Andersons' 'Moonrise Kingdom'.

The kitsch bright colours, the banjo music (which sets a comic tone), the sort of boy-scout-eque treasure hunt or mission with codes and secret maps and digging of underground escape routes - are classic Anderson.

There are also very confrontational angles where the characters are concerned and makes the whole thing feel like a like an interview or interrogation / detective story.

The plucky young female (in this case taking the form of Agatha) and the idea of innocent young love being just as valid as mature love, and even thwarted early on / not to be - are also extremely typical themes of Anderson's films.

There is a brilliant sequence where the 'Society of Crossed Keys' - a sort-of secret society of hotel owners - is called to the rescue. This involves a kind-of phone domino effect, where there is a series of phone calls which then require each respective hotel owner to stop whatever (even life threatening) duty he may be attending to and leave his own lobby boy in charge - such is the urgency of the matter and the importance of this 'Society of Crossed Keys'. It is done incredibly stylishly with a still of the keys to each hotel with it's name written above as a precursor to each scene, and each hotel has its' own stylised version of this receptionist-owner-lobby boy interaction.

There is a kind-of importance placed on the idea of important or significant artifacts, almost like clues to a 1950s boyish mystery book. In this film, the objects of significance are the keys, the perfume that Mr Gustav H wears, and the book that re-tells the whole story of the hotel.

In a way, the last story within a story within a story - is the young girl reading the book, presumably written by the man who records his memoire of meeting the lobby-boy-turned-owner of the hotel, and ironically, I suppose we - as the viewer of the film - are watching the girl, read the story that was written by a man retelling his listening of a story which was told to him by a man who got most of his information about the hotel from an untrustworthy source.

It is a legend in a way.

The comic timing was genius (there is a particularly hilarious incident involving fingers) and the entire movie regularly plays on the slightly surreal.

There are undoubtedly references to other film styles and nerdy film-buff in-jokes - but I am sure that I didn't pick up on all of them...

And of course, I couldn't not mention the cake, which has now been recreated by many bakeries across the world due to the popularity of this film.

How to make the Mendls' Courtesan au Chocolat from The Grand Budapest Hotel

I suppose film is very much a taste thing, and, although I can appreciate the skill involved in films 'rated' by extremely educated film critics, there are times when I simply don't share that gut-feeling of enjoyment or love for a film.

However, I utterly adored this film and want to see it again and again and again.

(Here's the trailer)

(oh and the Moonrise Kingdom Trailer as-well, in case you are interested)

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