Step through the doors of The Grand Budapest Hotel and you are in for a 5-star treat. Set in a deluxe spa hotel occupying an imaginary corner of Mitteleuropa between the wars, Wes Anderson’s new film pampers the viewer with its sumptuous visual delights, sparkling dialogue and absurdly enjoyable comic intrigue.
It also offers an exquisitely funny lead performance from Ralph Fiennes as the dapper concierge who presides over the hotel with unflappable aplomb, his urbanity unruffled even when he and his young protégé, lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), are thrust into the midst of a perilous caper involving murder, art theft and a staggeringly large family fortune.
Anderson displays similar precision and cool. Inspired by the highly stylised version of Europe lovingly conjured up on Hollywood soundstages by émigré filmmakers in the 1930s, he has created a deliciously artificial world packed with fastidiously observed detail.
Yet at the same time the film fizzes with screwball zest as Fiennes’ Monsieur Gustave H gets chased hither and thither by police, soldiers, aggrieved heirs and fascist thugs, pausing only to carry out a lunatic jailbreak. And, throughout, Fiennes delivers Anderson’s rapid-fire dialogue with a panache worthy of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday.
He’s consistently hilarious, yet his touching rapport with the innocent Zero pulses with real feeling. Add to this a charming rogues gallery of familiar faces in supporting roles – including Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton and Anderson talisman Bill Murray – and, all told, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a delight.
Not everyone will be tempted over the threshold, but lovers of the director’s defiantly idiosyncratic oeuvre will want to check in again and again.
Certificate 15. Runtime 100 mins. Director Wes Anderson.