Monday, May 28, 2012

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2012)





Rated: PG-13


STARS: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup
DIRECTOR: John Madden
GENRE: Comedy/Drama


A colorful assemblage of "elderly" Brits heads off to India where their retirement dollars will go further. Awaiting them is the "newly remodeled" (according to the brochure) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. They arrive to find a structure that is crumbling and in disrepair. Sonny, (Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire ) the young, buoyant  hotel manager has good intentions and a dream of renovating the place, but he needs to secure some funding. Some of the lodgers will make the best of it, and some will utter grouchy, mean-spirited things. In the end, each will find something or someone they've been searching for, and be transformed.


An ensemble cast as large as this one could be unwieldy, but there are many familiar names here, and I find it  easier to remember a character's story when it's a face that I recognize. These are stock characters, for the most part, but it doesn't make their stories any less poignant or compelling.


There's Jean and Doug (Penelope Wilton & Bill Nighy) the not so happily married couple who lost their savings when they invested it in their daughters business venture. Nighy, of course, is a great comic presence, but he's more subtly engaged with it here. 


Muriel, (Maggie Smith) a retired housekeeper who doesn't like India initially--maybe something to do with her being a racist and needing a hip replacement. 


Evelyn, (Judi Dench) a recent widow and all alone. 


Madge (Celia Imrie) is a wealthy woman on the prowl for a husband.


Norman, (Ronald Pickup)  an aging lecher (or "horny old dude" in contemporary parlance) on the prowl for one night stands.  


But the most poignant of the pensioners' story lines belongs to Graham, (Tom Wilkinson) a high court judge who grew up in India, and is back to find a man he loved when they were both teenagers, and hasn't seen since.  


A subplot involves Sonny and his true love, Sunainia, (Tena Desae) whom his domineering mother doesn't approve of. She wants her son to enter an arranged marriage. It's a clash of traditional and contemporary Indian mores. Things will come to a head, and Sonny will face his moment of truth with his mother.  


Beautifully shot and deftly paced, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  captures the bustle, the color, and the seductive allure of a land where cows and elephants saunter down the street--and the truly wise men are the ones who know enough not to follow  too closely behind either one.


 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the best exotic movie I've seen since...well... Slumdog Millionaire.


Grade:  A

5 comments:

  1. Yay! Saw it last night and gave it an A, too. I had my hankie out a number of times, related to the elderly and the what if's in life, including dating a gentleman 11 years my senior currently...who has traveled the world but who's musical tastes are just out of my generation...I know, that's only one thing...

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  2. You have good taste, Teri! And I'm all for younger women going with older men, as there's lots more you can share besides listening to music together...look at it this way--he will soon need to crank up the volume and listen to more rock (instead of that big band stuff) because of his hearing loss.

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  4. This is one that I've been wanting to see. Your review makes me want to see it more, I love the lightly way that you describe the racism of the Maggie Smith character. Also your description of the hustle and the bustle of India and what the wise man does. The subplot of the clash between traditional ways and newer ways seems interesting. Any movie that has Maggie Smith and Judi Densh has got to be a winner. I look forward to seeing the film.

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