The movie is a fantasy piece set pre-World War Two about the lives of lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) and the concièrge M. Gustav (Ralph Fiennes) at a wedding-cake-type old hotel located in the mountains of an obscure European country. The narrator describes how the hotel’s ownership came to be through a series of stunning visual sequences and physical comedy that reminded me of early Peter Sellers movies. The plot centres around a disputable will left by a murdered wealthy guest played by Tilda Swinton. I’m a big Swinton fan and would have liked to see more of her character. The sets were stunningly detailed and I wondered how much of it was filmed in a real hotel that time forgot.
Cameo performances by such well-known names as Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Ed Norton Jr., Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law and others were fun to watch. The writing was brilliantly funny and with intelligent use of irony (one of the writers is British) which meant plenty of belly laughs. Thinking about the movie afterward, I somehow thought it is more of children’s fairy tale that could have been equally well done as an animated film. But then, I’m just someone who likes to go to the movies and perhaps this one needs to be viewed and appreciated by someone more erudite than I am. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch.