The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director: John Madden
Writer: Ol Parker
Based on: Deborah Moggach‘s novel These Foolish Things
Cast: Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Tena Desae
7 British retirees travel to India where they take up residence in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A hotel they wrongly believe to be freshly restored. Instead they find a crumbling building run by the overwhelmed Sonny (Dev Patel). And generally India brings them nothing they expected. Evelyn (Judi Dench) ends up taking the first job of her life. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is looking for someone from his past. Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) are just looking for a connection. Muriel (Maggie Smith) just wants a new hip, even if she has to take it from a brown doctor. While Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) really just can’t afford anything else. But even though all of them might not get what they deserve, they might just get what they need.*
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is fluff. Fluff with a great cast and a nice atmosphere and a whole lot of cultural stereotypes. But it’s entertaining.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is extremely lucky that it has the cast it has. When you got an ensemble like that, there’s barely anything else you need. And it feels like they really counted on that. The characters are pretty thin and in the hands of lesser actors, would have entirely descended into stereotypes.
But they all take their characters and make them work. Even Dev Patel manages to make his Sonny utterly charming and not just a bundle of Indian stereotypes. Though that wasn’t easy. And they only succeed in not making it completely offensive by having all characters be clichés, not only the Indians.
But I was pretty certain that that was how the film was going to be, so at least I was prepared for it. [You can hardly make a film about the magical effect of going to another country without fetishizing the other country in some way.]
This probably doesn’t sound like I liked the film a whole lot, but I did enjoy it. The film knows exactly what it is and doesn’t pretend otherwise. Even though the jokes were old, they exuded a certain charm. And I loved having a film filled with older generation people. It was an evening well spent.
Summarising: It’s nice.