A film rich with style, charm and the art of the understated moustache.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is the tale of a glorious hotel’s consummate concierge Gusatve H. and his trusty lobby boy and loyal friend Zero Moustafa. Set in the fictional European Republic of Zubrowka mostly in the 1930s and 1940s the tale is recounted by the narrator, an unnamed author, as told to him many years after the fact by an aging Zero. Zero is now the fading hotel’s sentimental owner and as the film unfolds we find out how that position came to be.
The story is a captivating, humorous caper involving stolen paintings, shady dealings, prison and the camaraderie of unlikely friends. The performances, direction and detailed design are all joyously stylized and the wardrobe department have created an inventive take on the fashions of the era. The cast is a director’s dream including Ralph Fienes, Jude Law, Adrian Brodie, Willem Defoe and a few surprising cameos from the likes of Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton. For all these reasons you should go and see it… you really should.
However there’s more to this film than a simple engaging yarn. The movie harks back to a halcyon time which, I suspect, only truly exists in rose tinted memoirs. Gustave H. played by Ralph Fienes with sturdy decorum, albeit momentarily peppered with the odd amusingly crude outburst, personifies many of the attributes of a true Gentleman. Despite a string of questionable romantic involvements with the elderly blonde female guests of the hotel he makes all his acquaintances, from Zero to Madame D., one of his elderly dalliances, feel important, valued and loved. His pride in the hotel, gentle charm and dedication to exceptional personal service endear him to almost everyone he meets whether they be members of high society or convicts as he slips like a social chameleon from one dramatic vignette to the next. When unfamiliar adventure rears its head he is calm and brave. He is effortlessly well groomed, although possibly over cologned, and beautifully sports the classic moustache.
At this point I should declare a vested interest. I am a mustachioed man myself and not unfamiliar to a little wax. Whether it is with reference to the fashions of the era or simply the result of the director’s whim, facial hair is in abundance. The majority of the male dramatis personae proudly display their manliness with a tidy moustache. Many are of a classic style with a couple of notable exceptions being Bill Murray’s luxurious grey handlebar and Adrian Brodie’s more subtle but equally striking gently twirled “Clark Gable”. The older Zero wears a full beard but the juvenile Zero’s ambitions can be clearly seen as he uses a makeup pencil to draw in a thin mustache before heading to work. It is truly delightful to see scene upon scene where the mustache is the norm rather than a cartoon exception. I defy any un-whiskered Gentleman leaving the cinema not to seriously consider the idea of growing a moustache and investing in a little pomade.
Even if cultivating a debonair moustache of your own doesn’t appeal to you make the time to see this rare, gentle and enchanting movie.
By Andy Nichol
He has contributed songs to albums with a total of over 200,000 sales and has written incidental music for television, multimedia projects and library albums (including work for the BBC and Sky TV).
He has worked on various projects from fledgling singers and songwriters to world class rock and pop artists in studios in The U.K., the U.S.A and Germany, including his own studio “Pistachio Palace”.
As a player he has performed world-wide with different bands. Usually on bass, but sometimes on guitar or keys.
He is one of the proud founders of MADHEN productions.
He can sometimes be found in the company of Aldous Pinch http://www.aldouspinch.com/