6 February 2014 12:00 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

One of the more frequent accusations leveled at Wes Anderson — that he’s a filmmaker who favors style over substance — will ring even hollower than usual after “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a captivating 1930s-set caper whose innumerable surface pleasures might just seduce you into overlooking its sly intelligence and depth of feeling. As intricately layered as a Dobos torte and nearly as rich, this twisty tale of murder, theft, conspiracy and unlikely friendship finds its maker in an unusually ambitious and expansive mood — still arranging his characters in detail-perfect dioramas, to be sure, but with a bracing awareness of the fascism, war and decay about to encroach upon their lovingly hand-crafted world. The result is no musty nostalgia trip but rather a vibrant and imaginative evocation of a bygone era, with a brilliant lead performance from Ralph Fiennes that lends Anderson’s latest exercise in artifice a genuine soul.

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- Justin Chang

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