Set in 1930s Europe, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel presents an offbeat, dark comedy recounting the adventures of Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, who comes under the tutelage of suave concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes).
As seen through the eyes of Zero, we are introduced to the hotel and its eccentric guests, including the elderly guests Gustave H’s artfully seduces. After the mysterious death of one such woman, Madame D (Tilda Swinton), her will reveals she has left her most valuable possession, a priceless painting, to Gustave H, much to the chagrin of her family.
Accused of her death, Gustave flees from the police, taking Zero and the painting with him. Along the journey, the pair become friends, facing obstacles including imprisonment, escape, crazed members of Madame D’s family and the impending war in a (somehow) lighthearted manner.
Keeping to Anderson’s typical style, the quippy dialogue was filled with dry, dark humour and double entendre. The whimsical, deeply stylized narrative style and sets were immediately identifiable as Anderson’s, as was its overall distinctive style.
The performances were all well done, featuring many actors from Anderson’s previous films. Fiennes and Revolori made for an interesting duo with a believable friendship. Even if the overall concept was in some ways far-fetched, it was easy to accept within the context of their world.
A departure from slapstick comedy, this film provides a humorous look into many dark scenarios. Touching upon issues rooted into society, this film takes a humorous but critical view into love, murder, society, art and the general absurdity of life. While the film did not dive deeply into any one of the many themes introduced, it brought youthfulness and humour to what could have been a stuffy or unexpectedly dark plot.