“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”–For the Elderly and Beautiful

Adapted from a novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a finely nuanced film portraying seven British retirees:  a  widow (Judi Dench) whose late husband drove her into debt, a bigoted nanny/bookkeeper who is resigned to get a discounted hip replacement in India (Maggie Smith), retired judge (Tom Wilkinson) looking for his long lost lover, a sex fiend  bachelor Norman (Ronald Pickup),  a Blanche Dubois-type femme fatale (Celia Imrie), and a married couple who do not want to live in reduced circumstances in “senior living” (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton).

The hotel in Jaipur, India is owned and managed by Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire”) who longs to disguise the decrepit hotel’s faulty plumbing and broken phones with an optimism designed to soothe these seven Brits whose families have “outsourced” them. “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end,” he reassures his guests who have high expectations for living their golden years in India.  The hotel will be the new home for “people from countries that don’t care about their old people”–for the elderly and beautiful.

Adjustments need to be made–not only to the exotic environment of India but also to the equally unexplored terrain of aging.  Instead of a maudlin discourse on loss and life’s passing, the film is increasingly appealing and buoyant.  The marvel revealed is the resilience of the human spirit, the openness to new experiences and the risk taken to dive into the unknown.   At times this sweet, often hilarious, movie hovers on being sentimental since everyone is trying to figure out what to do with the years remaining in life. To assume defeat from what every one of us as individuals wants suggests we’re not asking the right questions.  In the end “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a shout-out to chasing your dreams, regardless of age.

Younger people might not appreciate this film as much as someone closer to retirement but the hopeful message is it’s never too late to make things happen.  Wish fulfillment is in short supply and the target audience for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” will remember the sweetness and folly of these six Brits for a very long time.

9 comments on ““The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”–For the Elderly and Beautiful

  1. The best moments came when the two characters conveyed their deep seated admiration for the land, the people and the culture. As you say, too bad the film didn’t benefit a worthier cause. The film seemed a bit corny and predictable. Poor camera angles made India appear quite a dreary place.
    All the acting was fine, if not a bit toothless… nonetheless, audiences liked it.

    • I thought the movie had flaws but I wouldn’t agree that I thought “the film didn’t benefit a worthier cause.” I do feel the movie was a bit sentimental, but I’m a sucker for schmaltz and sentimentality. As for India, although I was there a very long time ago, the photography rendered the towns just as vividly as I remember them. Keep on sending your comments and recommend movies that are your favorites too!

  2. Diana: Thanks for the nudge. We had planned to go see this film last week but each day’s work shouted loudly and drowned the sounds of India. We’ll try for it again this week and be more serious thanks to your review.
    –Matilda

  3. Excellent review of a very good movie…India
    Comes alive with all of the color, people and customs…Good job!

    • Your comments are always appreciated–and you follow my blog closely. India defies easy analysis or categorization–love to know your recommendations too. I hope to do a blog post on readers’ favorite movies in the near future!

  4. Hi, I think I will read the book, looks like fun. Will give my husband a note to keep an eye out for the movie when it comes to the Dish

    Cheryl

    • Let me know how you like the book. I am tempted to read it too–after finishing
      Cutting for Stone (which jumps back and forth between India and Ethiopia).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *