It was our date night and my man and I decided to head out to see "THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. This is a marvelous showcase for the film’s all-British cast to showcase their quick, dry wit, set against the warm charm of India. It’s a pleasure to watch these richly developed characters uncover their hidden potential.
First we meet our elderly ensemble – all ready to begin life in a lush and colorful locale. Evelyn (Judi Dench), a recent widow, can no longer afford living in her flat. Longtime marrieds Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) also find themselves cash strapped after their daughter’s internet startup fails and are forced to downsize. Judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is nearing retirement when he experiences his awakening and high tails it to India to find his lost love. Singles Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie) are also looking for love – preferably with a wealthy Indian local. And then there’s Muriel (Maggie Smith) who’s forced to confront her intense racism when her urgent medical procedure is outsourced to India. All stumble upon information about “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful,” a retirement home in Jaipur, run by young Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) – whom, as you may have guessed, also has problems of his own. They all converge at the airport, ready to drop their emotional and physical baggage, ready to head to India.
While you do have an idea of where the story is going, the character reveals and discoveries never feel contrived or forced. It’s effortless and leads to an authentic feeling of delight. The film also shines a light on the contrasts of Indian society. Modern mixes with traditional both in the architecture and in the westernization of the culture. The whole cast are in top form – especially Nighy and Dench, who light up the screen whenever they’re paired together.
It’s quite lovely to see a film with such depth as counter programming for those who don’t want to see actors run around in costumes in front of green screens. Chances are you are really going to adore your stay at THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, as I did.