The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
12A / 2011 / Comedy
Cast: Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson
Screenplay: Ol Parker, Deborah Moggach (novel)
Director: John Madden
Plot: An unrelated group of British retirees, each from very different backgrounds and all with very varied motives, decide to take a trip to India and end up staying together at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Run by the ambitious but equally hapless Sonny, the hotel is not quite the elderly paradise that these British patrons had been expecting; and neither was the profound effect that it would have on each of their lives…
Those of you who have been following filmmaking trends with any degree of regularity over the last few years, may have become aware of the large number of films where the lead characters are barely out of their teens; or the average age of an ensemble cast seldom sees the heavier side of 30. So instead of sitting astride the soapbox, bemoaning Hollywood bean-counters for their slow-burn massacre of the film industry; let us instead rejoice in the fact that some of Britain’s best (and indeed, most mature) thespians have been collectively let loose once again, to show the young whippersnappers how it’s done.
Of course, the danger with something like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is that in combining two facets of life that are rife with stereotype – which in this case include old age and visiting a foreign country – it also makes them prime targets for cheap laughs. For about the first 15 or 20 minutes of this film, one of the characters does begin to go down that route, and it’s enough to make you think that whole film will be as shallow as a baby training pool. Thankfully though, it is not nearly as bad as all that. In fact, while the actors wear a lot of the self-deprecating humour on their sleeves, the film also has plenty of warmth and heart to go alongside it too.
That said, nothing about this film is too heavy-handed. All the performances are lovely, and nobody here is trying to outdo anyone else or become the scene-stealer. If anything, this film probably suffers from being a little too laid back for some tastes. Then again, why should the young whippersnappers have all the fun?
Kyle Buxton is an independent freelance film reviewer and blogger
Be sure to check out his blog at: Reel Lighthouse – containing movie reviews, as well as other occasional film-related insights.