British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than advertised, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
Seven elderly Britons, for a variety of reasons, respond to an online ad and travel to Jaipur, India, where they find run-down hotel with a young, exuberant, and optimistic host. Evelyn Greenslade (Dame Judi Dench), newly widowed, wants a low-cost experience, Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) seeks a long-ago love, Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) and Jean Ainslie (Dame Penelope Wilton) have lost their pension in a family investment, Muriel Donnelly (Dame Maggie Smith) needs cheap hip surgery, Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) seeks a rich husband, and Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) is chasing women. India affects each in different ways, enchanting Douglas and Evelyn while driving Jean deeper into bitterness. Their host, young Sonny (Dev Patel), has dreams but little cash or skill; he also has a girlfriend whom his mother dismisses. Stories cross and discoveries await each one.Written by
To save other fans the effort of research and math, here's the ages, young to old, of the principal older actors and actresses: (may be off by a month or two) Madge Hardcastle / Celia Imrie sixty, Douglas Ainslie / Bill Nighy sixty-three, Graham Dashwood / Tom Wilkinson sixty-four, Jean Ainslie / Dame Penelope Wilton sixty-six, Norman Cousins / Ronald Pickup seventy-two, Muriel Donnelly / Dame Maggie Smith seventy-eight, Evelyn Greenslade / Dame Judi Dench seventy-eight. See more »
When they arrive at the airport all the members of the group already have a heavy sun tan, even though they have only just arrived in India and they did not have these tans when they were in England. See more »
Is it our friend we are grieving for, whose life we knew so little? Or is it our own loss that we are mourning? Have we traveled far enough that we can allow our tears to fall?
When someone dies, you think about your own life. And I don't want to grow older. I don't want to be condescended to. To become marginalized and ignored by society. I don't want to be the first person they let off the plane in a hostage crisis.
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I want to be old, I want to be poor and I want to retire to India NOW!
I loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and I'm not ashamed to admit it. What's not to like? Well, okay, at times it's a little predictable, the premise is wholly unlikely and certain aspects tie up too neatly, but then Shakespeare built a 400 year (and counting) career on such plots and it didn't do him any harm. More recently the same can be said of Billy Elliot, Notting Hill, The Lord of the Rings trilogy I'm sure you catch my drift. It loses one star for that but I'm not going to knock it.
It's directed by Jon Madden, who helmed Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love and The Debt (we'll gloss over the literary mutilation that was Captain Corelli's Mandolin) and he's reunited here with the star of two of those films, Judi Dench. Not content with casting one of the finest actresses of any generation, he's gathered an impressive who's who of acting aristocracy: Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and topped it up with Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel.
For various reasons surrounding diminished wealth, health and happiness, seven British wrinklies decamp to India to retire and recuperate at the eponymous hotel. Unfortunately it doesn't quite resemble the brochure, lacking phones, doors, rooms They are thrown together in an experience that challenges their prejudices, makes them reevaluate their lives and, in certain instances, takes them so far out of their comfort zones that all manner of emotions tumble out of them. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film about dismantling and building relationships and learning new things about old selves. It's often funny, frequently touching, occasionally frustrating, constantly inspirational and thoroughly uplifting.
One minor plot line is left unresolved (for me, at least) but the film doesn't end. It simply closes a chapter and so there is great hope. It may not be the greatest film ever but it has its place in the world and will probably earn a space on my DVD shelf. It is beautiful in many ways; the nuances of lesser characters, the touching honesty of principals and the simple, humorous and occasionally poignant dialogue all bring colour and light to the 124 minutes you'll spend in the company of this film.
Beyond all that is delightfully scripted, the overwhelming beauty that floods through the film is the location. The decaying, crumbling ornate temples are magnificent on their own but the striking saris, the vivid blossoms and the heartwarming smiles rekindled memories of my own, all too brief and all too distant experiences of India. I recalled every sight, sound and smell and my mouth watered in recollection of the exquisite meals I ate in dusty cafes and vibrant streets and I wished throughout the film, on my drive home and in several dreams to experience, again, feeling alive in India and perhaps living there.
I want to be old, I want to be poor and I want to retire to India right NOW! Another film review from The Squiss. For more reviews from The Squiss subscribe to my blog at www.thesquiss.co.uk
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