Think Ralph Fiennes and The Sloth will wager ‘comic timing’ isn’t the first thing to pop into your head. So casting him as the lead in Wes Anderson’s latest quirk-fest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, may come as a surprise. But darling, he’s fabulous.
Ralph is M. Gustave, legendary concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Nobody does it better than Gustav, guest return year after year for his slick, meticulous service, especially ladies of a certain age who also enjoy his more ‘intimate’ attentions. One such lucky dame is Madame D (an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton), a rich octogenarian much enamoured of the infinitely charming Gustave. When Madame is discovered dead in suspicious circumstances, the family vultures gather for the reading of her will and are horrified to discover she has left her priceless Old Master painting, Boy With Apple, to Gustave.
With Madame’s son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) baying for vengeance, the local rozzers soon suspect Gustave of Madame’s murder. Gustave decides the best option is clearly to purloin said painting and leg it, accompanied by his trusty Lobby Boy, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), and surreptitiously aided by the secret ‘Four Keys’ network of his fellow concierges.
Full of humour and joie de vivre, it’s a joyously playful romp, supported by the ever-growing merry band of Wes Anderson regulars, from Owen Wilson to Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray and Edward Norton (what’s the draw? retainers? Michelin standard catering? clinical exploitation of actor’s insecurities – they wanna be in Wes’ gang?). But the main attraction is the fabulous Fiennes. Seemingly drawing on the most urbane spirit of Stephen Fry he dishes droll quips and swears copiously, all in the best possible taste and topped off with a large dash of camp. The Sloth, for one, has our bags packed and is ready to check in.
UK release 7 March. Want more comedy? Check out The Stag.