The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
Post Created By Jennifer Kiley
My Favorite Anticipated Film Choice of the Year
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
Top Critics: 77%
PG-13, 2 hr. 3 min. Drama, Comedy
Directed By:John Madden
Written By:Deborah Moggach
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a sweet story featuring a top-notch cast of veteran actors which follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past. — (C) Fox Searchlight
Based on the 2004 novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, the film features an ensemble cast, with Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton, as a group of British pensioners moving to a retirement hotel in India, run by the young and eager Dev Patel.
Judi Dench as Evelyn, a newly widowed housewife whose house is being sold to pay off her husband’s debts. Despite their son’s protestations, she decides to make her home in India, in Sonny’s home for the “elderly and beautiful”. She keeps a blog to inform her family of all that she does and all whom she encounters.
Bill Nighy as Douglas: married to Jean.
Penelope Wilton as Jean: she and Douglas have been married for 39 years, and since Douglas invested, and seemingly lost, all their savings in their daughter’s internet business, the two find themselves unable to afford any kind of home, except for retirement bungalows installed with panic buttons and hand rails “for the future”; unable to face a future in such a place the couple make the move to Sonny’s hotel.
Maggie Smith as Muriel: an ex-housekeeper with a head for figures, is deemed surplus to requirements by her lifelong employers after she unwittingly trains her own replacement. She finds herself without a family of her own, having devoted her life to the care of another family. Living in a flat alone she is bitter and racist, and, when her doctor tells her that the only alternative to a six-month wait for a hip replacement is to be “outsourced” to India where the operation can be scheduled without delay, she is sent to Sonny’s hotel.
Tom Wilkinson as Graham: a high court judge, who has, for many years, been retiring “any day now”. And it is during the retirement speech of a colleague that he decides that “today’s the day”. He lived in India for his first 18 years, and for him, returning to India is the way to put to sleep part of his life that he has ignored.
Ronald Pickup as Norman: an aged lothario, constantly on the lookout for a new woman and unable to face up to his own age and consequent undesirability for young women. He seeks a new start with new possibilities in India.
Celia Imrie as Madge: has had several unsuccessful marriages and, like Norman, wants fun, adventure and a new man. Tired of her daughter’s attempts to keep her at home she flees the house and leaves for India.
Dev Patel (slumdog millionaire) as Sonny: runs the Marigold Hotel.
Diana Hardcastle as Carol
Ramona Marquez as Grandchild
Liza Tarbuck as Head Nurse Karen
Lillete Dubey as Mrs. Kapoor
Tena Desae as Sunaina
Movie Review: ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ worth the stay
Posted: May 25, 2012
By Matt Soergel
3.5 stars out of 4
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is quickly going to become the new favorite movie of flocks of moviegoers whose hearts don’t necessarily race at the sight of superheroes in spandex, killer space aliens, randy teenagers or serial killers.
It deserves the honor. It’s not trying to be the edgiest, most intellectually challenging film you could choose. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the characters are going.
But it is tremendously likable and quippily quotable, getting at some of the emotional truth of getting older and being lonely, while being hardly sappy at all. “Shakespeare in Love” director John Madden even resists romanticizing the Indian locations; instead they seem properly lived-in, chaotic and alluring.
The story follows seven aging Brits — a who’s-who of British stars — who for various reasons end up in India, at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful. It’s run by Sonny (“Slumdog Millionaire’s” Dev Patel, in a charming performance), a relentlessly optimistic and largely ineffectual manager who can do little about the hotel crumbling around him.
He has a motto to live by: “Everything will be all right in the end, so if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.” And after the Brits check in, the hotel sign gains some new words: “Now with Guests.”
Among the guests is newly widowed housewife Evelyn (Judi Dench), trying to navigate this world alone: “Is wireless the same as WiFi, and what do either of these have to do with broadband?” she asks the voice over the phone.
There’s Graham (Tom Wilkinson), a just-retired judge who goes to India for decades-old reasons of the heart.
There’s prickly, racist Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith), there for a cut-rate hip operation, bringing with her a large supply of English biscuits: “If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to eat it.”
There are the Ainslies (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton), who don’t have enough money to live comfortably in England. (Take note, “Shaun of the Dead” fans: They were a couple in that movie too, playing Shaun’s mom and stepdad.)
And then there are Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie), who are, separately, looking for sex and intimacy. “I’ve still got it,” gray-bearded Norman says. “I just can’t find anyone who wants it.”
That’s a lot of characters for any movie to juggle, especially when you bring in subplots about the Best Exotic Marigold’s manager and his girlfriend and his disapproving mother. It’s not unfair to complain that the film could have been better if it had been more ruthless in pruning away some of its cast.
But I figure the movie’s so big-hearted, the stars so relaxed and colorful, it can handle them all. Besides, I was pleased to meet all of them.
After detouring into grittier fare with last summer’s spy drama The Debt, director John Madden returns to his more genteel wheelhouse with this adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things, following a varied group of British seniors “outsourcing” their retirement at the title resort–that last word used quite loosely, for the reality is decidedly more run down, to put it mildly. If this sounds like nice, sweet middle of the road hokum about redemption and rejuvenation in the twilight years (with the hotel itself serving as a not so subtle metaphor for its patrons), it is. However, this is a classic case where all of the talent involved elevates familiar, predictable beats into something genuinely involving and moving, most especially the cast full of UK acting greats: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, and Maggie Smith. More notable, and more likely to ignored, is just how perfectly Madden modulates the entire affair; there are a number of moments that could have expectedly, lazily (d)evolved into shouty, crying confrontation, but those notes are surprisingly restrained and all the more effective for it; even the Bollywood-ready “forbidden love” subplot involving the hotel’s young manager (Dev Patel) is not milked for its melodramatic worth and then some. That gentler touch is the true icing on this light confection; a trifle, yes, but one that is irresistibly cute, charming, and genuinely heartwarming.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
A Real Charmer
Anyone who has ever booked a hotel by its picture and shown up thinking they are on the wrong planet can identify with the characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. That’s where a group of British senior citizens head after seeing an enticing ad and seeking the perfect place to spend their golden years. So seven naïve Brits say goodbye to homes and families and head off for a late-in-life adventure in Jaipur, India.
Some, like Evelyn (Judi Dench), have little to lose, as she has realized her life has not measured up to her expectations. She’s searching for a job and open for new discoveries. Madge (Celia Imrie) has not found her Mr. Perfect and the fancy resort club that maintains a high-profile clientele seems the perfect target for her. Douglas (Bill Nighy) has lost a lot in a bad investment and must convince his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) that living in a cheaper country will be fun and affordable. Norman is an old man who is profoundly lonely and seeks a new relationship – maybe that will include sex. Ronald Pickup (The Day Of The Jackal), shows through Norman that life isn’t over until you give up.
Dench (Shakespeare In Love) easily handles every raised brow of delight as Evelyn makes new discoveries. Imrie (Calendar Girls) keeps her character’s gold-digger side well under control throwing in a sweet surprise here and there. Nighy is superb in creating new excitement in Douglas who is having the time of life as he ventures off every day. Wilton is also great in portraying the staid Jean who is incensed at where they are and only wants to go home.
Some of the stories move off into their own subplots. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is an old grouch who came along on the trip to get a better price on a hip replacement and keeps hotel manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel, the wonderful star in Slumdog Millionaire) hopping with her unreasonable requests. Graham was a court judge in England who decided on the spur of the moment he still had something he needed to do and quits his job on the spot to make the move. Tom Wilkinson (In The Bedroom, Michael Clayton), brings his amazing talent to create the compelling story that drives Graham.
Several romances dance throughout the film. One is between Sonny and his girlfriend Sunaina (Tena Desae), who is far from the girl his mother has arranged for him to marry. Patel instills an amusing vigor into his character that’s a good balance to his hotel guests.
Based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, the movie has much humor, and director John Madden (Proof) liked that the film offered the comedy of displacement alongside the melancholy of loss – and the tribulations and joys of trying to grow older with grace and vitality. Ben Davis’s (The Debt) cinematography makes a nice travel brochure of India.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is enjoyable, funny and inspires us to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty.