The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD + Digital Copy) DVD|
A disparate party of radical, forward thinking but somewhat downbeat English retirees jump at the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave their dull, grey British existence behind and swap it for life in the recently refurbished "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" - an ultra-posh retirement hotel. Having seen a sensational advertisement promising a sumptuous, luxurious retreat in an idyllic setting, stunningly located in a beautiful part of Jaipur, these adventurous pensioners boldly set off for India with high expectations; excitedly looking forward to spending their twilight years relaxing in extravagant 5 star comfort.
Regrettably all is not quite what was envisaged and the accommodation does not in any way live up to their romanticised dreams. Far from the palatial splendour they had been expecting, their new environment is rundown, chaotic and the amenities woefully lacking. The story follows this set of individuals as they go about unravelling their old lives and begin gradually to discover brand new ones. As they embark on their personal journeys of self-discovery they find they become increasingly contented and full of hope suggesting people are seldom too old to change.
This charming film is thought provoking, quite moving and will have you on the proverbial emotional roller coaster before you know it. Side-splittingly hilarious at times and engagingly entertaining, you may just notice a tear in your eye on occasions.
This 2012 comedy drama is based on the 2004 novel by Deborah Moggach, These Foolish Things, and was directed by John Madden. The star studded cast includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Ronald Pickup, Penelope Wilton and Dev Patel.
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Average Rating for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD + Digital Copy) - 5 out of 5
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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD + Digital Copy)Julian Howard
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel appears initially to be a retirement swansong for the great and the good of British cinema and it is true that many golden oldies feature - try Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie for size. However, age does not feature just for the sake of it, instead it serves as a useful plot device to get these characters out of grey, rainy Britain and into bright and colourful India. To very briefly summarise, seven Brits of 'senior years' decide for various reasons to pack up and retire to Jaipur, India, specifically to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the "elderly and beautiful". It helps that it's cheap too, especially for Judi Dench's Evelyn who has to cover her late husband's crippling debts. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton's Jean and Doug can't face the finality and expense of sheltered accommodation back home, Tom Wilkinson's Graham wants to return to the India of his childhood for personal reasons and Maggie Smith's Muriel urgently needs a hip replacement which as it happens can be done quickly and cost-effectively by India's growing health tourism industry. Finally, Celia Imrie's Madge, a serial divorcee, is on the prowl for a new husband while Ronald Pickup's Norman is - appropriately enough - looking for no-strings attached romance.
This eclectic bunch are a walking metaphor for the worst features of today's Britain, with its overpriced property, thwarted ambitions, occasional small-mindedness, sexual repression and rampant ageism. For better or worse then, these characters with all their accompanying baggage are thrown head-long into the chaos and beauty of modern India. And so the film plays out and I find myself fascinated to watch how they adapt to the new environment. Unlikely hotel proprietor Sonny (played exuberantly by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame) provides the youth angle; he is naïve about the practical difficulties of running a hotel but he has a good heart and perhaps more importantly, his smart marketing acumen has identified the key point that the English "hate their old people".
The results of this collision of cultures are predictably mixed. Evelyn embraces the new life wholeheartedly and even finds a job in a call centre training Indian workers to listen more attentively to their British customers. It is less patronising than it sounds. Doug also warms to his new home and the diversity it offers but wife Jean's horror at the food and the general madness of the place are obvious and, in some part, understandable. Her portrayal of despair here recalls her brilliant performance as Pat from 1986's Clockwise. Muriel's prejudices against India and its people assume a more savage tone, with her (highly competent) doctors and care assistant taking the brunt. But a gradual enlightenment occurs and she opens up her heart in a compelling monologue which describes how she was left on the scrapheap after a career in service as a family nanny. This is as good as any character acting I've seen in recent years and for that alone the film deserves recognition. Meanwhile Graham seeks reconciliation with an old childhood flame, an episode which at the time scandalised both families. The outcome for him turns out to be bittersweet.
However, it's not all about what our heroes learn from India. The Brits also have something to offer their new hosts. Muriel's sharp book-keeping skills save the hotel from certain financial ruin and the very act of visiting her care assistant's family strikes at the heart of the Indian caste system, for they are Dalits or 'untouchables'. But most poignantly of all, Sonny is encouraged by his guests' life stories to pursue true love over all obstacles, not least his mother's dislike of his inappropriate - but stunning - girlfriend. Doug and Jean's opposing personalities, Graham's eventual victory over earlier prejudice and even Celia and Norman's desperation prove the point overwhelmingly. And there lies the simple message of the film, that different cultures and different generations have much to learn from one other, if only they would listen. If it sounds clichéd, well it probably is but The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel pulls it off in such an original and unlikely way that even the hardest cynic will be moved. After all, what would a bunch of old fogeys from Blighty get from moving to a place like India? And what would India's thrusting and ambitious youth learn from a bunch of British has-beens? Much, it would seem.
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