Friday, June 01, 2012



Last weekend, this geriatric crowd-pleaser really packed ‘em in at the Rialto Theater in Raleigh. The hype had been building for months - promos run in conjunction with Downton Abbey on PBS certainly helped – so folks (not all seniors, but mostly) came in great numbers to see the film.

From the laughter and applause I heard (I work part-time at the Rialto), they were not disappointed.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (tagline: “for the elderly and the beautiful”) concerns a group of British retirees (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, and Tom Wilkinson) who travel to India to take up residence at a hotel run by Dev Patel (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE).

They were expecting a luxury retirement development, but what they find is a crumbling, dusty, run-down dwelling in the center of Jaipur, India. But Patel’s sunny enthusiasm - mainly because these are his first guests – attempts to smooth things over: “In India we have a saying ‘everything will be alright in the end – so if it is not alright, it’s not yet the end.’”

Each of the pensioners has obvious issues with their living arrangements, but to most of them it’s preferable to their life back in the Western world.

You see, Dench is a highly in debt widower, the acerbic (and racist though that's something she all too easily gets over) Smith (not expanding much on her Downton Abbey character) is in need of hip replacement surgery that is less expensive in India, Wilkinson is a retired judge who had been raised in Jaipur so he returns to make peace with his past, Pickup is, well, an aging pick-up artist hoping to score better than back home, Imrie is also looking for love, and Nighy and Wilton (also a Downton Abbey cast member) are a miserable married couple who lost their savings investing in their daughter’s internet company.

Patel’s problems are that his mother (Lillete Dubey) wants to shut down the hotel, and she doesn’t approve of his girlfriend (Tena Desae), so there’s an excuse to break out the rom com third act standard: the mad dash to get one’s love back.

Well shot with a lot of colorful cinematography, this film is breezy and spirited, but it’s way too tidy, and overly cutesy. It’s not cloying however, and the cast is so appealing that they often transcend that their characters aren’t very fleshed-out and the simple-mindedness of Ol Parker’s screenplay (based on the book “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach), and there’s a wealth of good one-liners.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL should entertain undemanding movie-goers and mildly amuse most others. It’s a fluffy yet fine time. Expect it to play all summer long at an indie art house theater near you.

More later...


Tom Gooderson-A'Court said...

I've read reviews from both side of the Atlantic and it seems to be that it performed much better and was better recieved over here. I actually really enjoyed it, despite being about 40 years younger than its target demographic. It's a bit simple and easy but sometimes its nice to see something like that.

Hotel in Clark said...

It's really a nice unique hotel! Great review

Daniel said...

Very interesting, thanks for the review. I will have to give this one a try!

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