Monsieur Gustave and Zero
Journalistic Articles

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

An Analysis of Peter Bradshaw’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel Review”

About the Author

The author, Peter Bradshaw, has been writing film reviews for The Guardian as chief film critic since 1999. He started working as a contributing Editor at Esquire in 1999. He is the author of three novels, and wrote and performed a BBC radio program chronicle. The target of The Guardian is an educated, middle class, left-leaning, 18+ audience.

The Review

The title of the review “…Wes Anderson’s new film is a ‘deeply pleasurable immersion’” acts as a teaser towards the author’s opinion without giving away too much detail. By describing this movie as a “deeply pleasurable immersion” as opposed to “a really nice experience” Bradshaw entices the reader to continue to read. Further into the critique, Bradshaw’s positive argument becomes clearer and clearer. The subtitle states “Anderson’s staggeringly realised hotel of secret passion is an exhilarating and intelligent drama”. This statement follows a pattern of exciting the reader about what is to come. However, it does not allow them to know more than they need to.

Bradshaw uses the introduction of the article to set the scene of the film. He quickly mentions the director describing him as a “virtuoso of American indie cinema.” and the film’s setting as “preposterous”. These descriptive words, force the reader to think back on the whimsical reality that is the The Grand Budapest Hotel. The author goes on to mention famous novelists who shared a liking for the film’s social environment. Ultimately, he directs the reader’s attention to the movie’s inspiration, Stefan Zweig.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Official Film Poster.
©Fox Searchlight Pictures

After the introduction, Bradshaw delves into further detail about Zweig. He states “Stefan Zweig, never entirely happy with movie adaptations of his work…” This prompts the reader’s need to know more about Zweig and his work, as well as why this film might not have been seen as a success. He continues the search for answers by comparing what Zweig might have thought, to what Roald Dahl would have thought of Anderson’s adaptation to Fantastic Mr. Fox, with both questions to be left unanswered. Bradshaw gives the reader hope that this film would have been seen as a success by stating, “…Anderson’s brilliantly crafted forms are something other and something better than pastiche” (an artistic work that imitates another work).

The Structure

The author follows the typical structure of a review by producing a catchy introduction, followed by a brief summary of the movie. Bradshaw finishes his review with short sentences of admiration towards the production value and the crew that helped make this movie possible. He naturally and fluidly informs the reader about the main and secondary characters. The author mentions Ralph Fiennes, however quickly transitions into only talking about the character he plays, Monsieur Gustave. Through this transition, he allows the reader to leave behind the real world and truly immerse themselves into The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Despite writing an entire paragraph about the hotel, the author avoids going into further detail about the film itself. Perhaps his goal in the limitation is to fit into a certain word limit, or maybe avoid leaking spoilers. Bradshaw, throughout the review, hints to well known novelists, actors, and characters as a way to elaborate his own thoughts and feelings to the reader.

He also continues his positive argument through his word usage. Through descriptive adjectives such as “staggeringly realised” “exquisitely ornate” and “superbly detailed” he duplicates the energy of the film through details. Bradshaw goes into detail about the relationship between Gustave and Zero “the hotel’s vulnerable lobby boy”. He further states that the name Zero Moustafa may have been a subconscious connection to Zero Mostel “a great pleaser of little old ladies in ‘The Producers’”. This statement demonstrates the author’s film knowledge, while also asking the question, “Is there a connection?”

Zero Mostel drawing on his moustache in his room.
©Fox Searchlight Pictures

Although there are little to no negative criticisms throughout the article, Bradshaw does look at the setting, the casting, and the quality of the film with a critical eye. The author compares the setting to a cross between “…Nicolae Ceausescu’s presidential palace in Bucharest and the Overlook Hotel in Kubrick’s The Shining,” while admitting that The Grand Budapest Hotel gives both places a run for their money. Bradshaw also mentions that he can imagine “…Christoph Waltz or Dirk Bogarde in the role, but neither would have been as good”. This statement further establishes his film knowledge, while also providing the reader with an idea to ponder. As for the quality of the film he states, “I can’t think of any film-maker who brings such overwhelming control to his films”. While these compliments may seem biased, Bradshaw adds technical facts to support his argument. He elaborates by telling the reader the “…score keeps the picture moving at an exhilarating canter, and the script… is an intelligent treat.” Labeling this as an “intelligent treat” is comparable to labeling a politician respectable; a strange arrangement of words, seldom heard, but occasionally a perfect description.

The Conclusion

In the last paragraph Bradshaw states “It (the film) makes the audience feel like giants bending down to admire a superbly detailed little universe…” This statement allows the reader to look back at the movie and all of its details and see it from a new perspective. This doesn’t just affect the memory of the film. It forces the reader to think back to every superb detail experienced. The last sentence states “ A deeply pleasurable immersion”. This statement circles back to the title of the review, allowing a nice sense of closure. It also allows the reader to leave the article, feeling as if they haven’t left anything behind.

The original review can be found at The Guardian.

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