Movie review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a strange movie with odd characters. I rather liked it.

The film is a story within a story within a story within a story. It starts in the present day, shows a 1985 video by the author of a book with the same name, and goes to 1968 when the author met the main character of his book who recounts events from 1932.

Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori have the most screen time, but there are lots of famous actors in substantial roles (William DeFoe) and cameos (Bill Murray). The cast really is an eclectic group of characters.

The story revolves around a concierge at a famous hotel between the two world wars. As the movie points out, it was just one of many hotels but it was special. Gustave, the concierge, takes good care of his clientele, often older women. The plot thickens when one dies and he is implicated in her death.

As it turns out, she had different wills and addendums. Originally she left him with a hideous, though presumably, priceless painting. In the end, the final will (technical “The Second Copy of the Second Will”) left him the Grand Budapest Hotel.

But long life was not his to be. Instead, the hotel was passed down to the hotel lobby boy that he took under his wing and became comrade-in-arms with during all the escapades that the movie recounts.

Zero, the lobby boy, continues to grace the decrepit hotel in the present day. For the memories of Gustave? No, for his beloved Agatha, another character in the movie. They had lovely times at the hotel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely quirky and a wonderful diversion from serious drama. It transports you to a make-believe realm somewhere in Eastern Europe, sometime in the past. Everything—the people, the circumstances, the dialogue—seems a bit absurd.

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