The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is not exactly a title that rolls right off the tongue, nor is it an easy one to remember. Even if one simply refers to it as “that hotel movie with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith,” it is still a charming little film, admittedly a bit contrived in parts, although that is also just part of the fun. The movie has an engaging cast that, in addition to Dench and Smith, includes Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel.
The story concerns a group of British senior citizens thrown together by a combination of fate, lack of acceptable living options, financial realities and, in one case, a strong connection to a past life in India. They all wind up traveling to India to live at the titular hotel, advertised as one that caters to senior citizens. In truth it is an old building that, although colorful, is in poor shape. The hotel is held together, by sheer will, by a young manager, Sonny Kapoor (Patel), who, much like the guests he has attracted, wants to make something of his life. To this end Sonny always sees the positive in every situation, as when he desperately tries to convince a guest that it is actually to her advantage that her hotel room is lacking a door. Customer satisfaction is particularly important to Sonny as our protagonists are the only guests at his hotel.
As the film progressed I found myself envious of this group that, despite experiencing culture shock and, in some cases, dealing with their own issues of ethnocentrism, was having a second chance at life, experiencing and attempting to adjust to a new culture and land. Each character in this story has a strong objective connected to improving his or her life or, as Evelyn Greensdale (played by Dench) reminds us, “The person who risks nothing, does nothing.”
The story is narrated by Evelyn, a widow whose husband’s debts have left her no choice but to sell her flat in England. Although at the film’s start she does not know if there is a difference between wi-fi and wireless, through the course of the movie she becomes a proficient blogger and, through her blog posts, tells us that “The measure of success is how we cope with disappointment” and “All we know about the future is that it will be different.” Life affirming quotes like this abound throughout the story.
Smith, whose star has certainly been on the rise with the success of TV’s “Downton Abbey,” plays Muriel Donnelly. Donnelly, a wheel chair bound woman, learns something about herself and about her attitude toward people of other cultures.
In addition to an enjoyable story, a first rate cast and lots of life affirming quotes, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has been beautifully photographed, by Ben Davis, and is a virtual travelogue of many beautiful parts of India.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is playing locally at Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, and at AMC Loews Kips Bay Theatre, 570 Second Avenue.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Director John Madden, 2012,
Fox Searchlight Pictures, 124 minutes, rated PG-13
Posted on May 29, 2012, in New and tagged Ben Davis, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, India, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Tom Wilkinson. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.