“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight)
In an early scene in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the seven lead actors in the film are lined up in a row of seats waiting for a plane. It must cross the audience’s minds that this is a lineup of excellent British acting talent, a virtual who’s who of Britain’s best and brightest. These stars are Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy and the irrepressible Maggie Smith.
The movie in which they appear is a charming story but not a particularly complex one. These seven actors play characters who are pensioners, or people facing living on a pension, in England. They learn of a hotel in India where they should be able to live better in a less expensive way. They all trek off to India to the Marigold Hotel, a place that looked much better in the brochure. Still the manager Sonny (Dev Patel) says they have to imagine its possibilities.
Evelyn (Dench) is a woman who makes the best of any situation. She doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet and soon has found a job in the city. Graham (Wilkinson) is a man with a mission. He hopes to reconnect with someone who was his first love and this has haunted him all his life.
Douglas and Jean (Nighy and Wilton) are a married couple who made some bad investments. Douglas decides to make the best of their situation but Jean is constantly fighting any happiness they might find in India. Norman (Pickup) is a man who wants to recapture the romanticism of his youth while Madge (Imrie) wants to find a wealthy suitor. Muriel (Smith) wants to have a cheap hip replacement and maybe move on with her life.
All of these stories play out over the length of the film, and though not terribly interesting on paper they become wonderfully entertaining in the hands of these gifted actors. Judi Dench could be on screen just reading the phone book and she would be fascinating, and the same is true of Maggie Smith.
Since the story is about “senior citizens” it might not make the box office of a movie with a younger cast. Still the chance to see these truly amazing actors inhabit these characters is like having an acting class for the price of a ticket.
The film is rated PG-13 for mild profanity and some adult situations.
If you are looking for a movie that is a study of assorted characters then this is the one for you. Each of the seven characters is distinctive with Patel and his character thrown in for a younger viewpoint. You will find yourself royally entertained if not overwhelmed.
I scored “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” a rundown 7 out of 10.
Photo courtesy of: Fox Searchlight
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