This movie garnered 5/5 stars in the Straits Times Life! review. It’s rare to see any movie with 5 stars review and there were two recently, this movie and Lunchbox. (The last was Gravity last year). When it comes to a 5 stars movie, I am in a dilemma whether I should watch it or not, for I have discovered that in my last three and a half decades of movie watching, I don’t usually enjoy 5 stars movies, rare that they may be. They turned out to be either very boring or I would walk out of the cinema with no clue what the whole movie was about.
But, I decided to watch this movie as my son Ivan told me how much he had enjoy it.
So Bee and I made a date and went into town two Wednesday ago to catch the movie. Surprisingly for a Wednesday night, the small theatre was full at 7pm.
This movie is a flashback in a flashback. An author recounts the story of how the story of what he was about to tell literally fell into his lap. In the 1960s, he went to stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel and met the owner. Curious, he asked the owner how he came to own the hotel, and was told: it had been given to him.
In 1932, the owner, then known as Zero, was a teenage refugee who came to work in the hotel as a bell boy. He meets Gustave, the hotel concierge who was popular with rich old ladies who had come to stay at the hotel. One such was Madam D. Madam D was discovered dead one day and Gustave, together with Zero, traveled to her funeral, expecting to be bequeathed a windfall in her will. While there, they decided to steal a valuable painting worth more than all her fortune put together. Gustave was arrested, but not before Zero escaped with the painting. Gustave escaped prison through digging a hole in the sewage and was pursued by Madam D’s evil son Dmitri. Through it all, Zero was there helping him. You could say the whole film is like a James Bond movie with the same sexy protagonist, the exciting chase, the witty British humour on civility (having a moment silent for the dead when the villains are in hot pursuit behind.), but without the smart gadgets, and added with the comic touch of a Charlie Chaplin movie (this last bit was described by Bee.)
The whole movie, with the scenes of the grand hotel building painted in pink located in a picturesque Alps, together with the caricature characters, was to me like watching a cartoon movie.
My companion thoroughly enjoyed herself. Me? My first thought was, was the movie really worth five stars?
On a side note, I read the interview Time magazine had with writer-director Wes Anderson and the details that went into making the movie certainly made interesting reading.
On the building: ‘Anderson traveled to many grand hotels before constructing a set based on that research in an old department store in the German town of Gorlitz.’
On the pretty pastry box: ‘Anderson wanted a box that could go from closed to flat in one motion, having learned that showing characters opening regular boxes is a waste of film…When the ribbon is undone, all four sides of the box fell away like the petals of flower.’ I certainly noticed that.
My son Ivan describes the film to be like Stephen Chow’s movie, light and funny. Quite apt, in my opinion.