It's Never Too Late To Start A New Chapter.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is advertised online as one of the premier places an older person would want to retire to. A group of “Brits” including a married couple (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton), a widow (Judi Dench), a former housekeeper (Maggie Smith), a retired judge (Tom Wilkinson) and a couple of lively folk that aren't ready to settle down in a rocking chair just yet (Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup) decide to head for The Marigold Hotel with visions of exotic luxury and sophistication dancing in their heads. When they arrive at the shoddy residence run by the earnest yet slightly clumsy owner (Dev Patel) their collective reaction is understandably negative. Gradually, each member gets acquainted with his and her new surroundings and decide to make the best out of an awkward situation.
The film was one of the more charming ensemble pieces that I have ever seen. Based on the novel “These Foolish Things” penned by Deborah Moggach The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
starts off as a typical culture clash scenario with the seniors acclimating themselves to the traffic, the customs and the food of urban India. The magic happens when each individual story is laid out and set for development. There's Evelyn (Judi Dench) who recently lost her husband and now takes her first steps towards independence. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) actually used to live in India so he's right at home but it isn't just the allure of the hotel that calls him to relocate. Jean (Penelope Wilton) is unhappy that her husband, Douglas (Bill Nighy), can't get them a “proper” retirement home in Britain so she hopes that their funds will allow for a more prestigious dwelling in India. Muriel (Maggie Smith) isn't crazy about the idea of going to India to get a hip replacement operation but it's less expensive than in Britain so if she has to put up with some "darkies" to save a few pounds she'll do it. She'll do it begrudingly but she'll do it.
Madge (Celia Imrie) is hoping to land a wealthy gent that will provide her with the life and thrill she is accustomed to while Norman (Ronald Pickup) is hoping any woman will accept his brand of “thrill” while he still has it to give. Sonny (Dev Patel), the owner and manager of the hotel, also has a intriguing plot that involves his efforts to make the hotel a success, his unorthodox relationship with a “modern” Indian woman (Tena Desae) and his insecurities about being a failure brought on partially by his overbearing mother (Lillete Dubey).
My only gripe is that Judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is the one chosen to leave the group first. I'm trying not to spoil the surprise in his personal story but his abrupt departure struck me as annoyingly typical and cliched. I would've loved to have seen dialogue between Graham and the person he was seeking out as well as more reaction from the mystery person's family. Nope. Instead, Graham fulfills his quest and then he's shown the exit. The rest of the characters had plenty of suitable and engaging material to fill the void left by Graham but I would've preferred if he stuck around for the end or at least closer to the final act.
One would think that in a cast like this that every performance would be outstanding and I would agree with you about that. However, if I had to pick a personal favorite I would probably go with Muriel (Maggie Smith). The retired housekeeper starts off as a woman with a super-sized chip on her shoulder and her aversion to brown-skinned peoples is amusingly unsettling. I've seen Maggie Smith play the resident prude before but I've never seen her portray an all-out bigot. Her performance was just the right frequency of offensive and bitter. It isn't a shock when Muriel eventually thaws out of her frigid shell and starts to warm up to her new surroundings, in her own special way, of course. I just love when the “meany” in the group becomes less “meany”.
The characters were intriguing enough, the locales were colorful enough and the situations were interesting enough to keep me captivated. It also didn't hurt that the ensemble included some of the finest talent Britain has to offer. The overall vibe of the film might be a bit slower than the mainstream would like and the humor can be a tad on the “dry” side. Okay, the target demographic for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
isn't exactly the 30 and under crowd. Heck, even 40 year olds might pass on this and go see Marvel's The Avengers
At 33, I appreciated the message expressed in the film that being a senior citizen doesn't necessarily mean you are no longer relevant and useful. Getting old also doesn't have to mean that you don't have time for second chances or major shifts to your lifestyle. I liked the film's optimistic stance that one isn't too old to make a new life. If you're looking for a decent dramatic film right now or just need a matured break from the “adolescently” charged blockbusters then you should rent a room at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
. Just make sure to get the room without the birds in it. Rhymes With: Love Actually
(2003), Death At A Funeral
(2007), The Help
(2011), The Bucket List
(2007), Fried Green Tomatoes
(1991), Mrs. Henderson Presents
(2005), Steel Magnolias
(1989), Valentine's Day
(2010) Coming Soon
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http://www.hopesprings-movie.com/ People Like Us
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– A wealthy quadriplegic (Francois Cluzet) interviews candidates to be his caretaker and surprisingly chooses a stocky urban dude (Omar Sy). The two form an unlikely bond as the caretaker shows the rich man that life doesn't stop moving even when your limbs can't. 5/25/12