5 3 mins 7 yrs

Apologies if you’ve seen it already; the rest of you will thank me. You really will.

My sister-in-law gave me a DVD on Christmas Day. It was a film I’d never heard of: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which I see was released earlier this year. She told me that I’d enjoy it, so I took it as that and popped it into the new-fangled DVD player last night. It turns out she chose a wonderful gift because it’s a magnificent comedy, at least as enjoyable to watch as my long time favourite film, “Fargo”. So what’s it about?

Briefly, we’re in a fictional European mountain country during the inter-war years. Life at The Grand Budapest Hotel revolves around the impeccably refined and randy concierge, Monsieur Gustave H (portrayed brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes). Much of the hotel’s upmarket clientele consists of elderly ladies who come to experience Gustave H’s “excellent service”.

One day, however, one of these ladies turns up dead, leading to murder, a hunt for a priceless painting, police chases, shootouts, daring escapes, a brush with a mysterious brotherhood of concierges and all manner of other capers. I’ll say no more, but it’s all brilliantly done.

Comedy seems to be increasingly frivolous, usually consisting of groups of men doing infantile things, but this is the real thing. In a star line up, Ralph Fiennes is pin sharp. I’m pretty sure that every line he has is funny. He’s deservingly admired for his serious stuff, but he’s on absolute top form here.

And it’s not just a very funny film, but a very intelligent one too, touching on many themes including love, loss, loyalty and war, and no doubt others which will reveal themselves when I watch it again.

I hate being told what to do. The contrarian in me does the opposite, but you really ought to watch this film. In fact I see it’s at Tesco for a fiver, so get the DVD. It’s a low cost way of being admired by those you lend it to. Here’s a taster –

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  1. I’ll watch any Wes Anderson film on the strength of past performance. This one ranks with his best, which is a high compliment.

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