A former lobby boy, Zero Moustafaw tells a story to a writer, who tells this tale of a hotel, it’s guests and the outstanding concierge Monsieur Gustav H to us. It’s about (blind) loyalty, duty beyond the required, greed, stupidity, love for women in any age … and the power of influence when treating persons with the grace of that person’s beauty.
It’s (black) comedy at its best. The ridiculous becomes brilliant through cleverly constructed dialog, impeccable executed timing and timbre change. Many camera shots are little art pieces like in Moonrise Kingdom, beautifully constructed with cuts that ad to the timing, visually. The production design takes you from the shabby to over-the-top kitsch to breath taking wooden interiors and mountains. The CGI reminds me of Monty Python, deliberately unrealistic which is part of the humor yet makes it at the same time oddly believable.
I’ve never thought of Ralph Fiennes as a comedic actor, however he convinced me here. Tony Revolori as young Zero Saoirse Ronan as Agatha are remarkable. And then there were: F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Léa Seydoux, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, (I think I saw George Cloony for 2 sec)… Just to be able to get all these heavy weights to sign up for minor roles, demands respect. To get them all set their mark in a few minutes, is awesome.
“He retained the illusion with remarkable grace.” is one of the last lines in the movie. It describes both the main character and also the heart of the movie. This is a real 9 – beauty combined with dirt, great cinematography with dry jokes and art with silliness. If you like to be amazed, see something out of the ordinary, are able to go with a flow, you will LOVE this movie.
9 out of 10 stars