The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel DVD|
A group of British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you begin to let go of the past. From the Director of Shakespeare In Love and featuring an all-star British cast, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming, life affirming comedy drama about life, love and new beginnings...from£6.99 | RRP:
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Average Rating for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - 3 out of 5
(based on 2 user reviews)
The Best Exotic Marigold HotelJeanette Hardy
If I had to sum up "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" in a single sentence, I'd probably call it Love Actually for old people - a "Love Geriatrically", if you will. Following the intertwined stories of several UK pensioners who decide (for various reasons) to leave the UK and retire to a ramshackle old hotel in India, it's a gentle comedy-drama comprised of separate vignettes that cross over and connect in numerous ways. And, as with Love Actually, some of these vignettes are more successful than others.
The ensemble cast is made up of pretty much every elderly UK actor you can imagine. Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson rub shoulders with Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith, whilst Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup round out the group of seven. (I can only assume that Jim Broadbent, Michael Caine and Helen Mirren had prior engagements, or this film would have had the whole set of ageing British thespians!).
Whilst all of them are given some kind of individual story of their own, it's Dench and Wilkinson who get the film's meatiest dramatic roles. Dench plays a recently-bereaved wife who's trying to find her feet and get back out in the world now that she's on her own, whilst Wilkinson plays a gay man who's trying to track down an Indian ex-boyfriend with whom he once had a torrid affair years ago. Both storylines are treated with a certain amount of dignity and class, and director John Madden never pushes things so far that they feel overly sentimental. Instead, we simply get to see these two characters try to achieve goals that have become increasingly important to them as they reach the end of their lives. And whilst there aren't many shocks, twists or turns in their stories, they're perfectly well-told, and the characters are portrayed more than adequately by actors who both carry a certain amount of gravitas.
Meanwhile, Nighy and Wilton play a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, having been left virtually penniless after a bad investment robs them of their retirement fund. It's a story that doesn't really go anywhere until towards the end of the movie, truth be told - although it's reasonably interesting to see how the wedge is gradually driven further between them in earlier scenes, with Nighy's character embracing Indian culture at the same time as his wife becomes increasingly insular and disconnected. There's an amusing subplot involving Wilton's character trying to romance Wilkinson's (being oblivious to his sexuality), but it's more of a throwaway recurring gag than a distinctive story in its own right.
And there's a certain amount of lightness added to the movie by Imrie and Pickup, both of whom play characters that are looking for love - or at least a bit of fun - in their autumn years. The two actors bounce off each other well, and it's amusing to witness their goofy octogenarian escapades play out (Imrie's character tries to pass herself off as a minor royal to join a local high-class club; whilst Pickup portrays a randy old dog, and one who makes up with enthusiasm what he lacks in subtlety).
So far, so good. Even if it's all a bit predicatable and safe, these vignettes are reasonably enjoyable and inoffensive. And if the film was restricted to these sections alone, it'd be perfectly watchable.
Unfortunately, it's the film's handling of the Indian side of things that lets it down a little. Dev Patel (of Slumdog Millionaire fame) plays the hotel's young proprietor. He's a guy who's presumably meant to be a sympathetic everyman, but he's depicted in such a two-dimensional way that he struggles to really assert himself as a genuine character in his own right. Sadly, Patel is lumbered with playing the kind of stereotyped, hapless-and-subservient Indian supporting character that you'd be surprised to see in a 1970s sitcom, let alone a modern movie. And his troubles - which include trying to make ends meet at the hotel, as well as building a relationship with a girl of whom his mother doesn't approve - are painted in such simplistic, broad strokes that it's difficult to ever really connect with them.
And things don't improve when it comes to Maggie Smith's story, which sees a racist pensioner - who's in need of an urgent medical operation - learn the lesson that (shock!) Indians can be decent people too. This crass and borderline-insulting message would be bad enough, but it's exacerbated by the fact that Smith's character only seems to reach this conclusion because she meets Indian people who go out of their way to help her, whether it's the doctors performing her operation or the servant-girl with whom she develops a friendship. There's never any sense of comeuppance or redress for the vile racist views that Smith's character spouts in the film's opening scenes, and so her redemption by the end of the movie never feels truly earned.
Ultimately, this film is a hodgepodge of elements, some of which are enjoyable in their own right and some of which don't work at all. Most disappointingly, though, the structure of interconnecting vignettes isn't really used in a particularly clever way: there's no real indication that Madden is building a bigger picture out of the individual elements, and there equally isn't any sense that the film's many sub-stories have anything profound or interesting to say about the relationship between Britain and India, or about the challenges of old age.
Whilst it's nice to see the film industry start to realise that there's an older audience out there that is relatively uncatered for (although that's changing, with more and films being released that are aimed at older viewers - like Dustin Hoffman's recent movie, Quartet), I can't help but feel that elderly viewers deserve better than this. In the end, when it boils down to it, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is just a bunch of old, established British actors running around and having some fun in India. But if that sounds like your idea of a great movie, then you're sure to enjoy this.
The Best Exotic Marigold HotelRebecca Barton
This is a beautiful film with real heart. It is about a disperate group of British pensioners who have gone to India to enjoy an idilic retirement in a luxury hotel. What they find when they reach Jaipur is not the hotel in the brocure, it is infact only just standing up partially through the enthusiasm of its owner.
The situation brings out the best in some residents, giving them a new lease of life, while it brings out the worst in others. It is great characterisation given life by the cream of British actors. Non of the characters are 1 dimensional and there is always a reason for the way they react to their situation.
The cinematography is beautiful and captures the beautiful chaos of India through a first time visitors eyes. And as I had just got home from that part of India I recognised the atmosphere that the film showed.
All in all a lovely gentle film that is both funny and emotional without resorting to twee or over sentimentality.
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