The Grand Budapest Hotel – Movie Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful quirky comedy.  If you can find it in your area we highly recommend it. For some unknown reason this film was given a very limited release. The theaters it has played in have been packed and the audiences loved it.

It is the story of Mr. Gustave H. the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel right  before that part of Europe is shattered by World War II. He becomes the mentor of Zero the new Lobby Boy.

Mr. Gustave is a ridiculous silly figure who spend his days (and nights) catering to the wealthy old women who seem to make up the majority of the hotel’s guests. One of these ancient grand ladies dies and leaves a priceless painting to Mr. Gustave. The old woman’s relatives are furious and contest the will. Instead of waiting for a long legal process, Mr. Gustave and Zero steal the painting and their wild adventures begin.

Through it all, the audience cheers for Mr. Gustave. As ridiculous as he is, Mr. Gustave truly cares for the people around him, and tries to maintain an air of complete civility in a world getting increasingly more violent and chaotic. At one point Mr. Gustave and Zero spend time in a prison filled with hardened and dangerous criminals. (The leader expertly played by Harvey Keitel). But  Mr. Gustave ends up begin immensely popular with the fellow inmates by treating them with the same courtesy as if they were guests at the Grand Budapest instead of prisoners.

In the midst of all this Zero is trying to win over the love of his life Agatha, an assistant in a local gourmet bakery. She is wonderfully  played by the Irish Actress Saoirse Ronan.

Mr. Gustave and Zero have a romantic and idealistic view of the world which unfortunately is completely at odds with the world which is collapsing around them. Mr. Gustave wants the painting not because it is valuable but because it is beautiful and reminds him of his youth. Zero is willing to take any risk and go to any length to win over the young woman he loves.

As the audience we know that in real life, Europe is about to plunge into a devastating war completely wiping away good manners and Grand Hotels. Still, even knowing it is a lost cause, we cheer for Mr. Gustave and his fantasy view of civilization.

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