Review: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
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Director: John Madden
Cast: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith
Release Date: 24/2/12
Summary: Seven British retirees travel to India to relax in what they believe to be a newly restored hotel. Despite it being not what they imagined, the hotel and the country slowly begin to show their worth.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful should be a hotel that does what it says on the tin. But this hotel isn’t the best, nor is it exotic and based on the first guests it receives, it is certainly not for the beautiful.
For these seven British retirees have many issues, which have led them all to Jaipur, India and to this dilapidated hotel run by charming, over-achiever Sonny (Dev Patel).
Graham (Wilkinson) is searching for someone from his past, Evelyn (Dench) is attempting to move on from the death of her husband, Muriel (Smith) is a bigot who requires hip surgery, Douglas and Jean (Nighy and Penelope Wilton) are attempting to paper over the cracks of their unhappy marriage and Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) are singletons looking for love.
Each of these people are searching for something they feel is missing from their lives and feel the hotel is the answer. As you can imagine, they don’t exactly feel they’ve found it when the hotel turns out to be the opposite of the brochure.
We’ve all been there before. But the residents decide to stay, thanks to Sonny’s chipper attitude and endearing speeches. Sonny truly has the best intentions at heart but isn’t the wisest in his attempts to “outsource old age”.
Like the hotel, the film grows on you. It is a charming, sweet and at times emotional story, captured by some outstanding performances from its well seasoned cast.
Dench is the anchor of the film. Struggling to get to grips with her husband’s death and needing a job to cover expenses, she stays grounded despite being out of her depth.
Wilkinson, however, has the better story, searching for someone he lost a long time ago. He brings pain and guilt to Graham as he searches for redemption among the bustling Indian streets.
Maggie Smith steals most of the laughs as an old racist confined to a wheelchair, but her story arc sees her transform into a poignant old sage and it is Smith’s emotionally charged performance which makes it believable.
Bill Nighy is also on standout form and the rest of the cast fill out their roles with a verve and tenacity that the sparky script allows. Kudos to whoever paired Nighy up once again with his on screen wife from “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) as they play off one another rather well.
The city of Jaipur feels like a character itself. Full of bright colours and warmth, this isn’t the India of Slumdog Millionaire. The people here are happy and accommodating to our fish out of water characters.
Some of the stories do get lost among some of the stronger characters and Sonny’s side-plot involving his mother and his secret girlfriend is pure soap opera and it’s all been seen before, but the film survives on its characters and the cast do them justice.
Final Say: The message here is you’re never too old to change and thanks to the wonderful cast, no one is too young to enjoy it. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does what it says on the tin after all. 3/5