The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) – Directed by John Madden

Took the day off on Friday. I went into Howick with Seema, and had brunch at Café Paris. I enjoyed the Eggs Benedict and coffee, while Seema had the “big breakfast”, and then we shuffled off to the Monterey theater to watch The Best Exotic Marigold hotel.  A matinee session during a weekday, in a suburb with a high percentage of retired folk, and a movie about retirees dealing with their “golden years”; you would expect a healthy amount blue rinse in the audience to cast a hue over the silver screen … and you’d be right, we were the youngest people in the theater by some way.

And so into the movie. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film about seven British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe to be a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. Containing much of English screen royalty, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has a stellar cast. Perhaps too many quality actors to have crammed into one movie. I’ve sometimes found that many good actors does not a good movie make. The fight for screen time is often to the detriment of the plot, and the ensuing fractured story lines lead to continuity problems. However, here Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Dame Judy Dench, Penelope Wilton, among others, do an excellent job at letting the film be the star as it wanders effortlessly through the streets of Delhi exposing aspects of their various lives. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) does a wonderful job at giving his take as a young hotelier. He enthusiastically offers up a verbal assault of gratuities that so commonly mirrors the optimist demeanor of the local population. This film does not contain the visceral frenetic pace of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, nor does it require it. It has a pace more akin to director Madden’s earlier work, Shakespeare in Love, and it also feels like an authentic view of India from an aging British perspective.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not without its faults, it walks a well trodden path and does not offer anything new, however, I found the film to be quite charming nonetheless. Not quite charming enough to make me wish I had a curry for brunch instead of Eggs Benedict, and it did have some inexcusably cheesy moments, but it made me laugh and I was suitably entertained.

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