This lush, zany and hilariously dramatic movie features the operation of various aspects of inheritance law: wills; codicils; conditional clauses; probate; and the role of the executor. The plot centres on the inheritance of Madame D’s fortune, after it is revealed early in the movie that a specific gift of a very valuable artwork is made in favour of the Hotel’s concierge – the delicious M Gustave, lover of many wealthy, elderly blonde women, including Madame D.
Madame D’s outraged family (who may have been responsible for her death) attempt to thwart the gift by placing pressure on the executor of the will who, properly, asserts the independent nature of his role.
M Gustave is forced on the run with the assistance of his loyal lobby boy Zero, who Gustave promises to reward for his loyalty by drawing up a will in favour of Zero. As things happen, a further will of Madame D, expressed to be conditional upon her death by murder is discovered, in which she leaves her entire fortune to Gustave. It is not clear that he survived her by a period of thirty days, which is the statutory survivorship prerequisite in Queensland, but in any event having outlived Madame D, he was to inherit all of her estate. Alas, Gustave was shot defending Zero from enemy soldiers. His will therefore was effective in passing all of Madame D’s estate to Zero.
Like The Descendants, this movie beautifully illustrates the drama associated with estate disputes, an endlessly fascinating and universal drama.