Friday, March 21, 2014

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Modern Tempted/Harlequin KISS author Heidi Rice surprises herself by going totally overboard about Wes Anderson's latest comic gem.

If you're on the look-out for a charmingly eccentric, side-splittingly funny and fabulously life-affirming movie in the next couple of weeks then you can't do much better than director Wes Anderson's latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Now, I should first of all admit that this movie surprised me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I've never really 'got' Wes Anderson. He's the guy behind star-studded indie favourites Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, among others, all of which I've seen and all of which just made me think... Um WTF? I totally didn't get what was so marvellous about them. They made me grin in a few places, but I was squirming in my seat with boredom by the end. The other thing I've never understood is the appeal of Ralph Fiennes (pronounced Rafe Fines... because, why? is he French or something?). Seriously, do not get me started on what an epic pompous bore I thought The English Patient was...

Anyway, the trailer to The Grand Budapest Hotel did tickle my fancy so, when one of my mates suggested it for a Saturday afternoon cinema date, I decided to forego my prejudices and give both Wes and Rafe (spelt Ralph) another try... But I was expecting to be seriously underwhelmed. Boy, was I wrong (*smacks forehead in astonishment*).

Wonderfully random and hilariously daft - with a murder mystery at the center of it all which is really just an excuse to kick of a mad labyrinthine plot involving a host of stars in fabulous cameo roles  running around an ornate resort hotel and its environs in the 1930s - it's topped off by Fiennes's deliciously endearing, utterly charming and fabulously humanist turn as the much-admired hotel concierge Gustave H. Monsieur Gustave's life, it turns out, is as beyond bonkers as the plot. A man who on the surface is a cunning social-climbing seducer of elderly women but is in fact a poetry-loving man of the people, who is determined to see the best in life, no matter the slings and arrows - and unjust accusations of murder - thrown at him. And who takes a young refugee lobby boy under his wing who eventually becomes his partner in crime (no, not that crime!).

Really, I can't say enough good things about this movie. It's full of sublime slapstick incidents and throwaway comic lines that Fiennes and the cast of Anderson favourites (watch out for Bill Murray, Jude Law, Harvey Kietel, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe and a heavily disguised Tilda Swinton to name a few) deliver with such deadpan insouciance you'll find yourself chuckling over them again days later. I should warn you that I am someone with a rather dark sense of humour (not everyone will find a cat being chucked out of a third story window as uproariously funny as I did, I'll admit) but the utter absurdity of this movie, coupled with its complete conviction to its random plot and characters is a total joy to watch.

And Fiennes is a revelation. He really should do more comedy. That's all I'm saying. Go see it.. And here's that trailer to get you in the mood.

Heidi is currently hard at work on her 2nd Cosmo Red Hot Read... Her first is out now on ebook, while her new Modern Tempted/Harlequin KISS book Beach Bar Baby is out in June. You can chat with her via her blog, FB, Twitter (@HeidiRomRice) and on her website. For more of her film musings check out her Harlequin POP film review book Movie Bliss: A Hopeless Romantic Seeks Movies to Love for a bargain 99p/99c

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