The Best Exotic Marigold

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Posted May 23, 2012 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

4/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy
 
Director: John Madden
 
MPAA Rating: PG-13
 
Actors: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith
 
Length: 124 minutes
 
Release Date: 5/25/2012
 
Studio: Blueprint Pictures
 
 
What We Thought

A sweet-natured film with strong performances.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
A group of strangers find themselves sitting side by side at an airport.  They have three things in common:  they’re all British, all senior citizens, and all share the same destination;  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, located in India.  Each has their own reasons for going, but the Hotel is not what any of them expected.
     Far from it. The phones don’t work.  There’s dirt everywhere.  It’s infested with roaches.  But the elderly residents must also deal with the problems they brought with them.  Evelyn (Judi Dench), recently widowed, is adjusting to living life on her own after an unhappy marriage.  Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean Ainslie (Penelope Wilton) bring their marital difficulties with them.  The problems between them come to a head when they have conflicting feelings about their new home.  Meanwhile, Madge (Celia Imrie) seeks out a new husband, while Norman (Ronald Pickup) looks for more short term arrangements, if you will.  Muriel (Maggie Smith) is the most maladjusted of all, as she bears a strong prejudice against anyone with darker skin than hers.  However she desperately needs surgery, and a program in India can provide it to her the fastest.  Finally, Graham (Tom Wilkinson) explores the city on his own, looking for something—or someone.  Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), the owner and manager, assures them that all will be well in the end.
     The script, an adaption of Deborah Maggoch’s novel These Foolish Things, allows the actors to act—to convey thoughts without speaking a word.  Muriel forms a bond with the least likely of persons, a hotel attendant who’s an outcast in her own society.  There’s a moment where Muriel wants to thank her for a small kindness, but the words won’t come out.  She can only reach out towards her with an open hand, grasping.  It’s part of a touching character arc, that shows us how we can overcome barriers between ourselves and others—barriers that exist only in our minds, and how we’re better and happier for it.
     There aren’t many surprises, but in this case, it’s perfectly ok.  The Best Exotic goes where you want it to go, fulfilling the wants and needs of each of the characters we come to care about.  And for one of the characters, not a moment too soon, and we’ve come to know him enough to feel loss at his parting.  This is of course because of strong performances all around.  Dench balances vulnerability with an intrepid spirit in Evelyn, eager to start living for the first time in her life, and Patel shows us the same charisma he displayed in Slumdog Millionaire, once again playing a passionate young man who dreams his way to a better life.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a sweet natured film about that quality we need in our youth just as much as in old age; hope.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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