Release Date: 24th February 2012
Director: John Madden
Starring: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson
Certificate: 12 A
Running Time: 124mins
Based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a delight. Dev Patel has already proved he plays the underdog well in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it? As here he plays Sonny a young Indian lad with big dreams, a bucket full naivety and a heart of gold – sound familiar? His goal is to open the greatest hotel ever for elderly people. The plan is to con the retirees into visiting his super duper hotel, ensuring they fall in love with India and their new lifestyles so much that they never want to leave. That’s the plan…
The drawback is that their expectations from seeing not quite authentic photos in the online brochures are far higher than he’d like. There’s a huge feeling of disappointment, much like when you book a holiday that makes flashy and enticing claims and when you get there you discover you may as well have just gone to Skeg for a few days, because your accommodating is that grim and your location is miles from civilisation. Luxurious the Marigold Hotel is not but run-down, full of broken utilities, lacking a few basic doors and an utter eyesore, it is.
Funny, engaging and touching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is rather wonderful. With a cast that includes two Dames – Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and fellow acting veterans, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Celia Imrie it’s hardly surprising. Each with their own reasons to leave the UK and explore and embrace a new country and culture and each with their own agenda when they get there, but one thing is for sure they are all in for a journey that they’ll never forget.
Soon sharing tales of loss, redemption, happiness and hilarity the group become friends, form relationships and as cheesy as it sounds, they find themselves. As my Granddad used to call it, they’re on their delayed gap-year really, but why not spend retirement in an exciting way and embrace the unknown?
Evelyn (Dench) lost her husband, couldn’t deal with the problems that his debts caused or her family so decided to up sticks and start afresh, she Douglas’s (Nighy) eye – he’s a married man and his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) is far from happy about this development. Plus she’s dealing with utter hatred for India and keeps threatening to leave and go home.
Madge (Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) add a lot of light relief to the proceedings as two older people looking for love, sex and a bit of wild abandon in their new surroundings, both find themselves in some extremely awkward and funny situations and you can’t help but be touched as you realise that urges for life, love and fun aren’t over in your twilight years.
Take a second and have a think and a ponder, when was the last time you saw a film in which the seven lead roles are taken by British actors in their 60s and 70s. We cannot think of a single example, which you would assume would instantly alter the demographic, but it doesn’t this really is a fun for all film due to a witty and engaging script full of larger than life characters and a master-class in acting from all involved.