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Grand Budapest Hotel, The


Stars: Ralph Fiennes. Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Mathieu Amalric, Jude Law, F Murray Abraham, Léa Seydoux, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Fisher Stevens, Larry Pine

Director: Wes Anderson

This is a very odd film indeed and quite the silliest since the days of Richard Lester and his Beatles movies. Those expecting a tale about the various characters staying at the eastern European hotel of the title, and their stories, had better think again.

Instead, the focus is squarely on Monsieur Gustave (Fiennes), the prissily correct, bisexual, foul-mouthed concierge of the hotel in 1932, when it was still in its pomp.

Gustave, who takes new lobby-boy Zero (the annoying Revolori) under his wing, makes it his business to pleasure the sundry elderly dowagers who frequent the hotel, whether by flattery or sexual favours, hoping for gifts or hefty tips as reward.

When one such aged aristocrat (Swinton under a mountain of old-age makeup) leaves him a hugely valuable painting, Gustave grabs it and flees with Zero in tow, before ruthless heir Dmitri (Brody) and his lethal henchman (Dafoe, as a sawn-off relative of Jaws from the Bond films) can move in.

What follows contains speeded-up action, stop-motion photography and puppetry animation, with everything more than one pace removed from reality.

Although one of a kind, with some amusing moments (especially involving a Persian cat), the film is not without its problems, not least of which is that Gustave is not a character to which one could ever warm. An acquired taste, then, but worth a try if you're in the mood for a gamble.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour by deluxe.
98 minutes. Widescreen (some scenes only). UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Mar 2014