Top positive review
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A multi-layered masterpiece.
on 20 July 2014
Witty, funny, clever and engaging, and yet with an undercurrent of tragedy and loss that is achingly poignant in places. This film tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a young Lobby Boy and his mentor, the hotel concierge, played to perfection by Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustav H. The story is told in multiple flashback from the present (?) to the 1930's, like peeling back the layers of an onion and centres on the story of his induction into the Grand Hotel Budapest as told by an aged Zero (the Lobby Boy) to an author in the late 1960's. He recounts his adventures with M. Gustav during the early 1930's, in a fictional eastern European republic, when the Grand Hotel, still clinging to a ghost of its turn-of-the Century heyday, is run by the almost bi-polar M. Gustav (poetry-reading Victorian prim one second, swearing like a trooper the next) who likes to see to his lady guests 'every' need, no matter how old they are.
Murder, mayhem, mystery and prison ensue, with a host of marvellous supporting actors, while M.Gustav, ably assisted by Zero, remains unflappable and downright funny to boot. Despite all the comedy, there is no fairy-tale ending. The spectre of 1930's dictatorships and war hovers at the edges of the story and the sadness and loss, not just of friends and loved ones, but of a whole way of life and 'how it used to be' in the words of the aged Zero, is palpable and very touching without detracting at all from the comedy that went before it.
A great film with great actors, that works on so many levels. Definitely one to buy and watch again.