The Grand Budapest Hotel is crammed with moments of utter delight -- from the glorious performances by Ralph Fiennes, Ed Norton and the extended ensemble cast -- but anyone seeking a serious message should look elsewhere. This film is frothy fun, a visual delight, a quirky treat. Ultimately it's somewhat hollow, like a giant Easter egg wrapped in gold foil with a great big pink bow. There's only a thin shell to devour and then -- pop! -- it's all gone. But it was ab-fab while it lasted!
Leaping about a timeline in a series of flashbacks, TGBH is revealed in its belle epoch bells-n-whistles glory, a magnificent contrast to its later incarnation as an Iron Curtain relic. The scene in the 'spa' in the 1970s is beautifully observed; you can almost smell the chlorine and (ugh) body odour... While the ridiculous trip to the 'Sudetenwalz' Alps reeks of Monty Python; it's an ultimately silly indulgence. Fiennes reveals an unexpected ability as a comic actor, delivering droll lines which could have been absurd but which he carried off with panache. Also notable among the many cameo appearances was Tilda Swinton, whose sudden demise sparks the murder investigation about which the rest of the film revolves.
Seldom have I outright enjoyed a fanciful film so much. It does have its meaningful moments but they steer well clear of slushy sentimentality. Don't go looking for anything serious and you'll come away with a smile on your face. 9/10
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