Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Directed by: John Madden
Written by: Ol Parker
Starring: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton

Synopsis: A group of British retirees have outsourced their retirement, attracted by the less expensive and seemingly exotic India. They are enticed by advertisements about the newly restored Marigold Hotel and given false dreams of a life with leisure. They arrive at the hotel to find that it is not as advertised and, although the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, the retirees are profoundly transformed by their subsequent experiences

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is the ideal counter programming to “The Avengers” only because British senior citizens might be the only demographic not planning to attend the comic book adaptation. However, as the movie expands in more markets during the upcoming weeks, its safe to say adults who will experience blockbuster fatigue will flock to this movie. This light hearted dramedy stars numerous well-known Brits unrecognizable to most American moviegoers, but we will get to know them.

With the opening scene involving Evelyn (Judi Dench), ‘Marigold’ sets the tone of cultural miscommunication courtesy of a customer service representative from India. The plot involves the “out-sourcing” of the retirement of upper class Brits to India where it is cheaper and more ideal tropical setting to spend their golden years. A wide variety of them make the journey and share in all the fun. The recently retired High Court judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson) looks to begin a new life. Another is Muriel (Maggie Smith) who harbors racial hostility and only agreed to travel to India for a more affordable hip replacement with less of a wait times. Douglas (Bill Nighy) is drifting from his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) who fight often. Two singles having a blast are Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) and Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) who contain some great interaction with one another.

Chicks dig motorcycles

My favorite element to ‘Marigold’ was the very comical and spastic Sonny, (Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire”), as the hotel owner barely holding together renovating his property. Overwhelmed with anxiety, yet enthusiastic to work, Sonny has the stress of fixing the hotel and accommodate out-of-town visitors while wooing his girlfriend Sunaina (Tena Desae) who works in a call center. In order to be positive to the demanding guests, he shares with them his philosophy, which anchors the theme of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” (“In India, we have a saying, ‘Everything will be alright in the end.’ So if its not alright, it is not yet the end.”)

Lovely place to visit...

The colorful scenery and cultural variations fill ‘Marigold’ providing a cheery backdrop for the characters and performances. Normally, I’m not a fan of Judi Dench as an actress because I find her very prickly. She was a fantastic lead for the film coming to terms with the recent passing of her husband and working as a supervisor at a call center. Maggie Smith as Muriel has a challenging roll to be the cruel, mean woman toward those different from here. She transforms into a kinder, gentler woman. Similar to Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino,” Muriel drops her prejudices during vulnerable interactions with minorities. These two performances were the highlight of a stellar, established cast.

Like “Shakespeare in Love,” John Madden makes another sincere, light comedy that’s appealing to older adults. Fox Searchlight was smart to attach a trailer of ‘Marigold’ to “The Descendants” beginning last Thanksgiving. It’s never too early to build awareness for a limited release, independent film especially one in the summer competing with loud explosions, A-list stars, and huge opening weekends. ‘Marigold’ is an old fashioned, tailor made crowd pleaser which never ceases to be heart warming and endearing. This British dramedy is a welcoming alternative for adults who seek out well-acted, meaningful cinema. I have a hunch ‘Marigold’ will be the coveted, word of mouth independent feature of the season smaller studios only dream to have.

Rating 7 out or 10

Heartwarming, Coming-of-Age Elderly Saga in India

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