Marrakech International Film Festival

MARRAKECH, Morocco -- "Grandhotel" is a quirky tale about a hotel in the Czech Republic where one does not see the guests at all but rather its staff. An apt movie that is sure to endear itself to a discerning festival crowd, but too experimental for others, "Grandhotel" is set in the northern city of Liberec and among the nearby Jizerske mountains.

Jaroslav Rudis, Pavel Jech's script focuses primarily on the hotel's handyman, Fleischman (Marek Taclik), who is also an amateur meteorologist desperate to get close to the skies. He is sewing a hot air balloon to take him up, up and away, but if he does not vanish into the clouds, it because the chambermaid, Ilja (Klara Issova), loves him and drags him down to terra firma. But she has a problem in her jealous boyfriend and arrogant waiter, Patka (Jaroslav Plesl).

Though Fleischman believes that a person belongs to the place he is born, he dreams of running away from European boredom. Among his co-workers are the sex-starved receptionist Jegr (Jaromir Dulava), clumsy hotel help Zuzana (Dita Zabranska) and bitter German World War II veteran Franz (Ladislav Mrkvicka). It is only when beautiful Ilja comes into Fleischman's life that things begin to brighten.

Director David Ondricek spins a yarn that is great to look at but lacks emotional punch. Often the characters appear distant from each other, and the chemistry between Fleischman and Ilja is not hot enough. Taclik is fussy, if that can be called somewhat appealing. Issova's eyes are mesmeric, even though she does not ooze enough sex, leaving one wondering what exactly caught Fleischman's eye. Richard Rericha's photography is wonderful, adding a warm glow to the images and the striking cloud movements. The film's sound design by Pavel Rejholec and music by Jan P. Muchow won the country's Oscar equivalent, the Czech Lion.

Lucky Man Films/Ceska Televize
Director: David Ondricek
Writers: Jaroslav Rudis, Pavel Jech
Producers: Krystof Mucha, David Ondricek
Executive producer: Ondrej Nerud
Director of photography: Richard Rericha
Production designer: Jan Vlasak
Music: Jan P. Muchow
Costume designer: Josef Cechota
Editor: Michal Lansky
Fleischman: Marek Taclik
Ilja: Klara Issova
Patka: Jaroslav Plesl
Zuzana: Dita Zabranska
Jegr: Jaromir Dulava
Franz: Ladislav Mrkvicka
Running time -- 95 minutes
No MPAA rating