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Cinema Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (15)

Lorna Irvine reviews the new 'free-wheelingly funny, occasionally sick, madcap' film by Wes Anderson.

Like Looney Tunes directing a Marx Brothers re-imagining of a Kafka novel, this has to be Wes Anderson's most perfectly rendered vision yet.

With the emphasis on a hotel's perfect facade and crumbling interiors within, this is a simple metaphor for a society torn apart by fascism. The colours may be pure cream and candy, but the flavour is rancid, that of a screwball comedy fuelled by bitterness and conflict—something rotting away behind the red curtains. There's a body count equivalent to your average Tarantino film here, although it's all done with a hop, skip and a (cable) car chase.

There are many attributes which make this film the complete joy that you want to experience again: the wonderful, eye-watering set designs—both homage to, and skewering of, Expressionist-era filmmaking, the reciting of poetry getting interrupted, indicating shit going off, the endless in-jokes, which get funnier through repetition (a la The Simpsons' Sideshow Bob standing on lots of rakes), the ludicrous plot involving the death of an old lady in the 30s which sets off a chain of comic capers involving an expensive artwork, innumerable lobby boys, war, dead cats, trains, prison and, of course, cakes.

But easily the most wonderful, surprising thing about The Grand Budapest Hotel is that everyone is playing against type: so Ralph Fiennes is Monsieur Gustave, a camp , venal eccentric who sleeps with the elderly in order to get their inheritance and runs the titular hotel with his new sidekick Zero (a hilarious deadpan Tony Revolori), Tilda Swinton is unrecognisable as eighty-something Madame D in prosthetics and bad teeth, Adrien Brody plays Dmitri, the psychopathic son of Madame D, executor of the will Jeff Goldblum is pretty ineffectual, first narrator Jude Law looks like Groucho Marx...and on and on and on.

A free-wheelingly funny, occasionally sick, madcap ride that you will not be able to blink through- as not one scene is wasted and just wonderful to look at. I would love to have seen the size of the storyboard on this one…

Tags: cinema

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