Director : John Madden
Starring : Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup
Running Time : 124 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now
‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful’
This is the story of 7 British retirees who, for various reasons, decide to ‘outsource’ their retirement to India. Graham (Wilkinson) is a retired Judge, desperate to get back to India where he spent many years as a young man. Douglas (Nighy) and Jean (Wilton) are a married couple who, after a lifetime of planning for their retirement, have been left with very little money. Muriel (Smith) is a bitter, racist, lost soul. Madge (Imrie) is a sexy older woman on the prowl for a new hubby. Norman (Pickup) is a sleazy older man on the prowl for a much younger woman. And then there is Evelyn (Dench) who after being married for 40 years, has her husband die and discovers many lies and deceptions.
All these very different people find themselves at an airport in England about to embark on this important journey into the unknown together. The journey to the hotel is an adventure in itself as we start to know the characters and see them interact with one another.
Once they arrive at the hotel, to say it is not what they expected is an understatement. The beautiful, lush hotel pictured in their shiny brochures is just a rundown, crumbling remnant of it’s glorious past. Their host Sonny (Patel) is a fast talking charmer who is so endearing, you couldn’t help but stay anyway. We learn he is considered the under-achiever in his family and his overbearing mother wants him to sell the hotel so his brothers can have their share of the profits. But he believes in this venture and will do whatever it takes to make it work.
Sonny’s romance with the beautiful and driven Sunaina is the other great romance in the movie. Ooops, did I say other? Oh dear…
India is the other great star of this show. Shown in all her glory and all her despair, you cannot have a movie set in this vibrant, colourful country without her ultimately stealing some scenes. There is no Taj Mahal or tourist stuff here. Just the real India with it’s real people, real streets, real lifestyle. The caste system is also touched upon in the most surprising of ways. The West frowns upon India’s caste system but this movie does ask if we are any better?
Obviously, this movie boasts a stellar cast so it was not surprising that I was in a half full cinema. And it was all people of all ages too, not just the more mature movie-goer as one may have expected. What was surprising was that this movie should still have half full cinemas 3 weeks into it’s run. I checked with the ticket office on the way out and they said it had been the same since it opened.
This movie is just gorgeous. I loved it. It has no CGI. No car chase scenes….. but it does have some hilarious tuk tuk scenes. There is no great mystery to solve. It is a simple movie about ordinary people coming to terms with their place in society. Okay, they are coming to terms with it in India but the reasons some of them ended up there is very poignant.
Nighy once again steals a movie, just like he did in Love Actually. But he steals it with the eternally glorious Dame Judi Dench. Just a side note, whenever I type her name, I mentally genuflect. The same goes for Maggie Smith. And Meryl Streep. I just do. Now you know that.
So Nighy and Dench steal this movie. Yes they do. And they do it with humour, grace, charm and a smidge of flirting. Their situations are, in my opinion, the saddest of the bunch. I think this is mainly because they have ended up here through no fault of their own. But it is this pair who rise to the challenge and have a fresh stab at living.
All the performances are fantastic as you would expect from a cast of this calibre. All the stories are engaging and as wonderful as each other. There are no weak links in this movie. It is all so very believable. I want to pack up and move to India now. Okay so I have wanted to move to India since I could talk, Indian blood courses through my veins you see, but this movie makes me genuinely want to grab the passport and just go.
Oh one last thing. There is not an ounce of botox in this movie. Not a drop (I’m pretty sure there is not a drop) The ladies of a certain age look like ladies of a certain age. They do not look like caricatures of themselves. They do not have faces that refuse to move. They do not have weird looking eyes or strange, sharp noses. No duck lips or tight, taut drum skin here. This should not even warrant a comment but sadly it does in this day and age. And all of these ladies are magnificently beautiful. Glorious in their own skins.
Now I am off to dream of retiring to India…