Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on June 2014

I feel sorry for people who don’t “get” Wes Anderson’s quirky, surreal and totally original approach to filmmaking. This eighth film by the writer/director of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom is framed as a story within a story within a story, presented in multiple flashbacks from the present to the 1930s and orbiting around M. Gustave, a legendary concierge at the title hostelry in a fictitious eastern European country. A sensual ascetic if such a thing is possible, he’s charismatic, highly disciplined, slightly ridiculous, and a bit of a scoundrel. (It’s a pleasure to watch Ralph Fiennes in a rare display of his comedic chops.) The dark and daft main plot has to do with his being bequeathed a valuable painting (by an aged Tilda Swinton) and the attempts by a clan of nasty nobles to retrieve it. Cast includes F. Murray Abraham, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, and a host of big-name cameos. It’s a comically complex contraption, enchanting and absurdly entertaining, but there’s heft under the confection and a sober acknowledgement of the events looming over Europe in the next decade. Don’t get Wes? I hear there’s another Transformers movie coming up. (100 min)