Anderson's whimsical 'Grand Budapest Hotel' evokes a bygone Europe

Thu Mar 6, 2014 7:14pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif (Reuters) - Old rich dames, angry henchmen and one very punctilious hotel concierge make up the fantasy world at the center of Wes Anderson's whimsical caper that evokes a bygone era of aristocratic hierarchy and opulence.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel," out in limited U.S. release on Friday, is in part inspired by Anderson's own experiences of living in Europe, the works of Austrian author Stefan Zweig, and paying homage to an era where tradition reigned supreme.

"Each year I spend a pretty good part of the year in Europe for the last 10 years or maybe more, so this is for me a chance to do a story that relates to my own," Anderson said in his soft hybrid accent that masks any hint of a Texas drawl.

"It's related to my own adventure of being abroad, of being a foreigner abroad in a world, and my own sense of discovering new things," he added, reclining on a sofa in a Beverly Hills hotel, in one of his trademark light brown suits.

Texas-native Anderson, 44, has become synonymous with his quirky, dark comedies such as 1998's "Rushmore," 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums," 2004's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," and his 2009 adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" that have drawn a cult audience.

For his devoted fans, "Grand Budapest Hotel" offers up all of his trademarks - satirical comedy, eccentric characters, an odd-ball love story and visually detailed settings.

British actor Ralph Fiennes leads a star-studded cast that reunites some of Anderson's frequent collaborators, such as Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Bill Murray.

Fiennes makes his Anderson film debut as Monsieur Gustave, the meticulous, impatient, flamboyant concierge of the hotel with a penchant for seducing old, rich widows.   Continued...

Cast member Ralph Fiennes and director Wes Anderson (L) arrive for the premiere of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" in New York February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri