This is definitely a quirky film. It’s funny in a very sarcastic sort of way, and the way it’s set up just makes it seem like you’re watching a book being acted out on screen.
In some ways, this reminded me of Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla (2008)—which I am still hoping he may change his mind and finally make that sequel to, because I loved it—because of the whole “chasing down a painting that’s of some value to various interested parties” sort of thing. Although, unlike in Rocknrolla, we actually do get to see what “Boy with Apple” looks like.
As a sidebar, the funny thing about “Boy with Apple” is that the whole backstory behind the painting that the movie gives is totally fabricated. For those interested, this article sheds some light on the origin story of the painting used in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
I didn’t think to check the rating on this film before watching it, but even if I had, I don’t know if I would have been prepared for a few of the unexpectedly gory bits, just based on the trailer and the first several minutes of the film. There’s one scene in particular that sticks to mind that I’ve attempted to bury (although in writing this entry I’ve dredged it up again, and it’s one I’d much rather forget). Aside from those moments though, the movie overall was enjoyable.
In some ways, I feel like the audience is personified through Jude Law’s character of the “young author” in the sense that a certain outcome is expected, only to discover that by the end, it turns out Ralph Fiennes’ character isn’t as central as he appeared to be at the start. I found that to be an interesting twist, and I almost felt bad for Gustave (Fiennes).
On a slightly irrelevant note, I will say that I felt a little thrown off by the actor choice for the aged version of Zero, the other main character in this story. Perhaps it was to throw us off the scent, but the drastic change in skin tone made it hard for my mind to accept that they were supposed to be two versions of the same character.
One thing I wish they had spent more time on (and it was definitely my favorite part—that whole sequence had me laughing so hard) was the bit about the Society of the Crossed Keys. It’s a very lame-humored and nonsensical set of scenes in a way, but I personally couldn’t get enough of it.
Final Thoughts: I think it’s worth the rental, although I can see some people getting confused while watching this. I think even I would have to watch it at least one more time to catch everything (I’ll admit to some parts of the story not making sense to me, even as I look back), but overall I thought it was very entertaining. It also can seem a bit slow at points. Also, I’m thinking of this now, but I think mostly because of how the movie is sectioned—you’ll see what I mean probably if you decide to watch it—one could easily treat this movie like a book, stopping after a certain section and starting it back up again later on at the next.