The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a gloriously fun, comedy infused, movie whose effervescent stream of English talent provides a stunning success of geriatric entertainment. Unfulfilled by their twilight years and faced with concern for their future, both from a financial and an enjoyment standpoint, a group of pensioners uproot their lives from drab England to India for a life of promise at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the elderly and beautiful. In an amusing turn of events their plan to outsource their own retirement goes awry when the hotel is not everything it promised to be in the brochure.
Featuring a cast of some of the most respected and best loved British actors’ and actress’ over the age of 50, and almost like a geriatric take on The Inbetweeners Movie, there’s a character to represent everyone; A widow, an unhappy married couple, an enfeebled racist, a gay high court judge, a randy old man, and a tired old cougar. Upon arriving at the hotel they realise that false advertising has run amok as the hotel is a mere dank shell of its former glory, but under the unrelenting happiness of its manager Sonny, played by Dev Patel, the characters are (mostly) all slowly brought around the charm and beauty of not only the hotel, but also the country.
Putting aside the marvellous confluence of events that brings together Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie onto our screens all at the same time the movie is funny, moving, and enjoyable right from the start. The movie cleverly and humorously balances the alarmingly indignant treatment of older people with scenes depicting their bafflement with a modern world – the perfect example being a telephone exchange about wireless broadband. Meeting on the plane to Jaipur, and bonding through the adventurous journey they have to make to reach the hotel (after their connecting flight is cancelled), the characters bounce off each other wonderfully and are a pleasure to watch, be it Judi Dench’s sheltered widow, Evelyn, or Maggie Smith’s crabby racist, Muriel. Smith here showing that she’s queen of one liners even when far removed from Downton Abbey, her frequently unabashed racist remarks serve to illustrate the preposterous, and laughable, nature of ignorance – after all we do love it when our old people say something inflammatory don’t we.
Each character gets their own story – be it of love, loss, lust, or leisure – and each one is concerned with finding a place in the world. The product of going to India is that they ‘find’ themselves or discover that the lives they thought they had were either less than they’d hoped, or less than they could have. Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup try to slut around to hilarious effect. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton’s characters have come to terms with the state of their marriage. Judi Dench finds realisation about her life, a job, and companionship. Tom Wilkinson searches for his first true love and to fix a life he feels he might have broken. Finally Maggie Smith is forced to reassess the boundaries between peoples and cultures and find a new way to help and be happy.
The older generation are influenced by the hotel’s charm, the country, and by Sonny’s youthful cheer and in turn influence him in making the decisions in his life, dealing with his family, and with the girl he loves. This is a movie about living, about staying relevant and refusing to fail. As Judi Dench’s character in the movie says, ‘real failure is the failure to try’ and the movie has a wonderfully positive attitude summed up beautifully by Sonny’s catchphrase ‘everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright then it is not yet the end.’
Anglophiles will be elated and charmed as this movie celebrates a wealth of British talent – indeed it’s only missing Patrick Stuart, Ian Mckellen, and Julie Walters, actors who presumably had to remain in Great Britian for fear of good ol’ Blighty ceasing to exist if everyone left at once. Moving, heartwarming, hilarious, perfectly acted, and well written The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is simultaneously poignant, believable, and thoroughly enjoyable.
In cinemas now.
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