Director(s): John Madden
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Release Date (USA): May 25, 2012
"Initially you're overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it's like a wave. Resist, and you'll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you'll swim out the other side." -EvelynWhere do you go when you're elderly but still have a desire for adventure, are in need of a cheap medical treatment and/or left with no other place to go because your native homeland is far too expensive? You go to India, of course. It's affordable, exotic and a great place in which to find yourself. Lured by advertisements and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, an eclectic group of British retirees arrives to find the Marigold Hotel a mere shell of its former glory. And though their living situation is less than expected, they are all profoundly affected by the experience of living in this foreign new land. In their own way, each of them walks a veritable path of self discovery and learns that life and love can begin anew even when you think you're way past your prime.
I rented The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on a whim and I'm glad that I did. Based off a popular novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of several cash-poor English retirees who travel to India looking for sex, love, rebirth, closure and/or adventure. Naturally, things go awry for the bunch starting with their arrival at the less than desirable Marigold Hotel. But through a series of follies, trials and adventures the gang grows closer to one another and they manage to learn a valuable lesson in the process: it's never too late to seek out new beginnings. Played by the creme de la creme of British acting royalty, the cast of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, inspires and dazzles.
Dame Maggie Smith plays the feisty and untouchable xenophobe, Muriel, who comes to India unwillingly to receive a hip replacement. If there's one thing Dame Smith can play, it's surly and she does so with a wryness and bitterness that is both sad and cheeky at the same time. And what makes her so lovable is not only the humour behind her situation, but the redemption that comes along with it. Actually, this goes for all of the cast. Then we have Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton as your testy, argumentative old couple. Nighy is open, he's an explorer whereas Wilton is unwilling and set in her ways. They come face to face with a drastic decision regarding the nature of their marriage. Tom Wilkinson, as Graham Dashwood, comes to India looking for his long-lost love. Then there's Dame Judi Dench as our main narrator, Evelyn Greenslade. She goes to India after the death of her husband seeking closure but really as more of an escape. What she finds, however, is a fresh start and a new outlook on life.
Most of the action centers in and around the Marigold Hotel with Dev Patel playing its struggling manager, Sonny Kapoor. Every time he takes the screen, he steals the scenes with his fervent hope and optimism. Perhaps what I love the most, though, is that India itself is another prime character of the film. We're given a bird's eye view of the vibrancy of Jaipur from the crowded streets to the colourful markets and the serene customs. It's a whimsical and refreshing vacation folding out right in front of your eyes. I think what makes the setting stand out so much is the allusion created using the stark contrast between the India's progression and the old colonial habits of the British characters living there. It's poignant and powerful.
My only real issues with the movie are that there's a number of cast members and story lines to follow and it can be a bit to keep up with. And it's inevitable that you are eventually going to connect with some of them more than others. I won't deny, the movie can at times, be a tad predictable especially near the end. You kind of know that everything is going to be wrapped up in a perfect little bow despite the issues that have arisen. But that's okay because it's supposed to be a feel-good kinda film and if there's one thing this movie has, great acting talent aside, it's heart. There's nothing more perfect than that because we all know, all's well that ends well, right?
Summary PrognosisThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a sweet, irreverent, cheeky film featuring some of the greatest British actors of our time. While it can be a bit predictable at times, the movie's ultimate message is an endearing one that speaks to the heart. This isn't just a film for folks in their golden years, it's one of those powerful movies that can be enjoyed by adults of all ages because the themes are super relatablel. This movie will make you laugh and cry, smile and admire. And if anything, you'll be in a state of wanderlust for quite some time.
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