Wes Anderson opens Berlin film festival to rave reviews

Stars Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray talk about the film

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Wes Anderson's latest movie The Grand Budapest Hotel has opened the Berlin Film Festival to rave reviews.

The Guardian gave the 1930s set crime caper four stars, while Variety praised its "sly intelligence and depth of feeling".

A notable absentee from Berlin is the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died on Sunday of a suspected drug overdose.

He had been due to attend the festival to promote his film God's Pocket.

Instead, a screening of his Oscar-winning performance in the film Capote will be screened in tribute on Tuesday.

"He was one of the greatest actors we had in the world," festival director Dieter Kosslick told the Reuters news agency.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, stars British actor Ralph Fiennes as the famous concierge Gustave H, who woos octogenarian blonde widows at an Alpine hotel.

When one dies in mysterious circumstances and leaves him a valuable painting, it sets in motion a chain of murder and mayhem.

It co-stars an enviable line-up of actors including Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson.

Wes Anderson is a European festival favourite. His last film, Moonrise Kingdom, opened the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and earned him an Oscar nomination for best screenplay.

The cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of 23 movies competing for the festival's prized Golden Bear award
(L-R) Bill Murray, Wes Anderson and Tony Revolori The film teams Anderson (centre) with cast regular Bill Murray and newcomer Tony Revolori
Christoph Waltz Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz is on the prize jury

His previous films include Fantastic Mr Fox and The Royal Tenenbaums.

In the Telegraph's five-star review, Tim Robey described The Grand Budapest Hotel as "the most intensely pleasurable curtain-raiser in recent history, if not ever".

He added: "It's like a magnum of house champagne. You might get light-headed on the pure fun of it, which unleashes fresh waves of fun-within-fun at every point where you worry it could dry up."

The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an idiosyncratic period comedy that will delight connoisseurs more than the wide public".

In its review, the publication said "its sensibility and concerns are very much those of an earlier, more elegant era, meaning that the film's deepest intentions will fly far over the heads of most modern filmgoers".

However, in a rare negative review, Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice called the film "a marzipan monstrosity".

It was, she wrote, "a meticulously appointed dollhouse of a movie" which "went on and on, making me want to smash many miniature plates of plaster food in frustration".

The film is screening in competition alongside films from US director Richard Linklater and French auteur Alain Resnais; and '71, an upcoming British film set in Northern Ireland.

The eight-member jury, chaired by Brokeback Mountain producer James Schamus includes Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz and US actress Greta Gerwig.

It will announce the winner of the prestigious Golden Bear and other prizes on 15 February.

Other films screening out of competition include Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac and Calvary, a black comedy drama starring Brendan Gleeson and Chris O'Dowd.

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