The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2011, UK/USA/United Arab Emirates
Seven retirees (Judi Dench as widowed Evelyn, Bill Nighy as Douglas, Penelope Wilton as Jean, Douglas’ wife, Maggie Smith as racist Muriel, Tom Wilkinson as recently retired Graham, Ronald Pickup as the womanizing Norman, and Celia Imrie as Madge, who is seeking a wealthy husband) are looking for an inexpensive place to spend their golden years when they discover the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. They all travel to India and when they arrive, they discover that the hotel is not nearly as polished as advertised, but the manager, Sonny (Dev Patel) is enthusiastic and happy they’re at the hotel. All seven experience their own challenges, but all find that India changes them in different ways.
The film was a lovely “feel good” film. Some of the characters receive more screen time than others (as is often the case with ensemble casts) and because of this, some of the stories were more interesting than others. I loved Graham’s story as a retired barrister returning to India, where he grew up. He had the greatest scene in the film. Most of the stories are well developed, but I did find Muriel’s story to be a little sudden and convenient, but her character trajectory was a powerful one. Overt racism is extremely uncomfortable to watch on screen, but Muriel’s growth as a character was lovely. The weakest character in the ensemble cast is Jean, who is distinctly unpleasant. Wilton does an excellent job with the character but, unfortunately she wasn’t given as much to work with as the other actors.
The veteran actors are all respected and among the greatest performers working today and they were a joy to watch on-screen. They are without a doubt the reason the movie worked as well as it did. Had the performers been less talented, the film would have fallen flat and all of the charm would have been gone.
There have been quite a few Western films taking place in India over the last few years. While this is undoubtedly a romantic portrayal of India, the cinematography is gorgeous and I wouldn’t be surprised if this film inspires people to visit the country.
Admittedly the story itself is fairly standard and the film is predictable, but it remains charming and fun.