I’ve never had any interest in visiting India. And in fact, always thought of it as a place I wouldn’t like to go. So it says a lot, that after watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel I’m seriously considering a vacation there. Further more, and I’m not saying it’s changed my life or anything but it’s put certain things into perspective. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting old, and it terrifies me (even though I’m only 25). It sends me in to a panic because age is something I have no control over and time seems to be racing by. And I like being in control god damn it! Though it’s most likely only a temporary ease, having seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has somehow made me look at growing up and getting old in a slightly less terrifying way. Maybe I’ll even enjoy it. ……..Who am I kidding, the thought of turning twenty-six distresses me.
Anyway, less about me, more about this incredibly charming, funny and heart-warming film.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (due to its lengthy and in my opinion tongue twisting title I shall refer to it as TBEMH from here on.) was a refreshing watch for me. After all the really gritty, psychological thrillers, tear-jerkers, action films, and a few dialogue heavy’s I’ve seen of late, it was great to just sit back and enjoy a film without struggling to follow it or end up feeling heavily depressed afterwards. It was just an incredibly enjoyable viewing experience.
Based on Deborah Moggach’s novel ‘These Foolish Things’, TBEMH, directed by John Madden, follows a group of British retirees to India to The best exotic Marigold Hotel which to their understanding meant living out the rest of their days in luxury and care free. But everyone knows not everything is how it appears in the brochure! To their surprise they arrive to a run down hotel with broken furniture, birds nesting in the rooms, and a fresh-faced hotel manager with big dreams but no money to materialise them. All the ingredients of an emotional rollercoaster with plenty of laughs? I think so!
Led by a cast of British acting royalty, and a very entertaining Dev Patel, you are instantly drawn in with each characters personal story before they leave for India.
Evelyn (Judi Dench), recently widowed and in debt, heads to India on a journey for new experiences. Muriel (Maggie Smith), a bitter bigot, travels to India for a hip operation to avoid the six month waiting list. Graham (Tom Wilkinson), a retired judge, returns to India where he lived thirty years earlier and to where he is most happy. Madge (Celia Imrie), having exhausted all her resources at home, moves to India in search of a man. Norman (Ronald Pickup) is the male version of Madge. And Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) decide to relocate after a bad investment in their daughter’s internet company. They’re a mixed bag of lovable and very entertaining characters, made more so because the actors who play them are so enjoyable and effortless to watch; but the biggest and most impressive character has to be India. It’s such a stunning, colourfully rich setting; so vibrant and full of life. This story in any other location would I’m sure fail to evoke the same sense of awe and wonder. Every character has their moment to shine and India does so spectacularly. As funny as it is, TBEMH is also incredibly heart-warming and in parts sad. I shed a fair few tears of both sadness and joy, and though I’m not in their situation or of that age I found it easy to relate and empathise with each character. Just as I have discovered an interest and liking of India so do our group of retirees. They find happiness in unexpected ways, and for a hotel with many faults and flaws it is full of character and charm which the elderly guests, and myself, quickly embraced.
Honestly this isn’t a film for everyone, appealing more to an older audience and probably generating no interest with children or teenage boys who prefer action films and ‘hot babes’ (yes I did just say hot babes!). But I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact I loved it! It’s well paced, beautifully written and atmospheric, and I’ve fallen for its breath-taking image of India.
I really have nothing negative to say about it, and that’s a rarity. I didn’t even notice its lengthy running time!
(It loses half a point because there are so many experienced (and by experienced I mean old) British actors who I would love to have seen in the film but understandably you can’t fit them all in L. That would be like fitting a circus in a Mini.