By the end the desired effect is inverted. Instead of a frothy, innocuous piece of fluff lulling you into a pleasing stupor, which would be appear to be the director’s goal, you find yourself on the point of screaming at the screen. Grand Budapest might kick off as a promisingly leftfield foray into Mitteleuropa (based on the works of Stefan Zweig, we are told) but it ends up becoming a flimsical, whimsical jazz-profaned, Benny Profaned, noodle into Mitteleuropa. This is a Mitteleuropa for people who don’t want to have to think about Freud or Musil or Kafka or even Zweig. It’s a Mitteleuropa for banal Manhattanites who assume a Mitteleuropa is a brand of designer coffee they have yet to come across and will be Pleasantly Surprised to discover it’s actually just a playground for heplish indie-nish US actors to hang out and Do Their Thing. In short, the director succeeds in taking the very thing he claims to be celebrating and bastardising it to such an extent that already execs are drawing up plans to rebuild the Grand Budapest Hotel, supposedly demolished, and turn it into the Must-Go venue for any aspiring uber-tech firm's 2016 bonding weekend. There will be Ustase themed nights, with obligatory schnapps chasers and post-prandial machine gun sessions. There will be the Communist themed nights, muted colours only, where no-one is allowed to laugh and that’s the biggest joke of all. They will invite Zizek to give by-invite-only seminars that will end with naked wrestling sessions in the candlelit mountain snow.
Which part of the world will be the next to get the Anderson makeover? Where can he parachute in as many feckless, gilt-edged cameos for his mates? The post-war Left Bank? A romcom inspired by the Battle of Algiers? The Cultural Revolution with Phillip Seymour Hoff guesting as Mao? (Note to ed/ Wes - nice idea but the horse has bolted from that particular stable.) Why is this man allowed to splurge so much talent to such little effect? Why is he given such luxurious budgets to churn out this nonsense? Why does anyone ever give him the critical time of day?
Answers on a postcard.
The prettiest picture will be forwarded to the appropriate scouting team.