Sometimes a writer will invent a story. But many times, the stories find the writer. In the late 1960s, an author visits the quaint, failing Grand Budapest Hotel, and the hotel owner, Zero Moustafa, tells him the story that will make him one of the most beloved authors in the Republic of Zabrowka’s history.
A refugee from the war which had already reached his country, Zero became the hotel lobby boy in 1932, at a time when business was flourishing. The hotel’s success was largely due to the concierge, Monsieur Gustave, who treats every guest (especially wealthy, elderly, blonde women) with the courtesy of a bygone era. But it is his association with one particular wealthy, elderly, blonde women (Madame D.) that gets him into trouble. When Madame dies, she alters her will to leave her most valuable possession, the famous painting “Boy With Apple,” to M. Gustave. Her vicious relatives are furious. Knowing that they will never part with the painting willingly, M. Gustave and his lobby boy sneak it out of the house. When police discover that Madame D. was murdered, the relatives accuse M. Gustave. This chain of events launches the concierge and his lobby boy on an epic cross-country adventure full of absurdity and danger, while war looms quietly in the background.
I watched this film several weeks ago, but I’m still thinking about it and processing it. It was excellent–although as with any Wes Anderson film, I will give the disclaimer that if you do not like artsy movies, you will probably hate it. Every shot is a beautiful work of art, perfectly framed with colors that reflect the time period and mood of the particular scene. The framing stories start off slowly, but once the 1932 plot begins, the absurd humor and action keeps the story moving. The humor takes the prominent role while the more thought-provoking themes (lives preserved in story, the insidious presence of war, the quiet death of an old way of life and consequences of attempting to preserve it) simmer in the background and linger after the plot has ended. If you are a Wes Anderson fan, I’m sure you’ve already seen it and enjoyed it. If you like artistic films and/or absurd humor, I highly recommend it!