The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a movie about a group of British seniors who, for one reason or another, get to retirement age and realises, oh snap! We don't have enough money for retiremen. They all see this ad about a hotel in India called The Best Marigold Hotel and decides, this paradise is where their retirement funds can be stretched to give them a wondeful rest of their lives.
The moment I first saw the commercial or this movie, I wanted to watch it. I'm not sure why. I've never been a huge fan of Judi Dench--I mean I never disliked her, it's just that I didn't seek out he movies to watch. I know her from being James Bond's handle in the new movies, and again as a Dame but she wasn't an actress I was goo-goo over. And I didn't know Bill Nighy (Viktor from Undeworld: Rise of the Lycans and Slartibartfast from Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and I definitely didn't know Dev Patel (Jamal of Slum Dog Millionaire and Prince Zuko in The Last Airbender) was in it. But from watching the previews I was absolutely enamoured with this premise. Maybe I'm biased because I love travel and the idea of picking up everything and just going somewhere to start over after your curent life just keeps kicking you in the grapes. But for whatever reason I never got around to seeing the movie. After getting Netflix, it kept popping up in the recommended movies because I watched a part of another movie Late Bloomers that I just couldn't get through.
So finally, I gave in, clicked on it and watched.
First let me say this. There were parts of this movie that was slow--and I'm not talking about a beautiful stillness I found in Ciao -- this was slow as in they could have edited out that bit. But those moments were few so its still a worthy, funny and heart-wrenching movie to watch.
The characters in this movie are many so I'm just going to push the main ones for length state and to avoid giving away too many spoilers.
Evelyn Geenslade (Judi Dench) just lost her husband and gets the shock of her life when she finds out he's heavily in debt. Not only that, in order to settle it, she has to sell the house she raised he family in to settle said debts, her son is taking control of everything and talking about her to the real estate agent as if she's not even in the room. She'd be damned if she goes to live with him like he planned and she'd be doubly damned if she allowed him to take care of things like his father did.
Then there's Graham Dashwood (The Lone Ranger, Batman Begins) a court judge who is tired of the retirement parties and the pretentious speeches they do every--single-time someone is retiring. He's in the middle of one when all the suffocating bullshit of these speeches and fake smiles applauds got too much and he merely lifted his hands and walks away. As a young man he lived in India and has his secrets buried deep inside about why he's going back.
Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) is married to Jean (Penelope Wilton - Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey, Harriet Jones Doctor Who) and lord have mercy I felt sorry for poor Douglas. His wife Jean nagged, and complained, and bitched and OMG! This is a woman who tells him that "if she wants your opinion, I'll give it to you" when all he did was bend over backwards to please her. They are in India because well, Douglas' daughter wanted start up funds for a .com company so he leant her his and Jean's life savings expecting a good return on the money. The company didn't lift off the ground. So he's in his own version of hell on earth.
Muriel Donnelly (played by Maggie Smith, Mother Supeior from Sister's Act and Violet Crawley Downton Abbey) is a racist who after years of taking care of a household in England as her job, they hired a newer model and thanked he for her services. Now she needs a new hip and the doctor told her the best place she can get this done, cheaply and quicker was India. Oh the humanity!
Then there's the horny old man who just wanted to feel young again and the grand mother, tired of being treated like a babysitter to her grandchildren, who just want to be loved again.
The story picks up greatly in India at this hotel that isn't this grand, amazing, palace like the ad said. The phones don't work, most of the rooms have no doors and there are birds sleeping in some of them. They meet Sonny (Dev Patel) who is a dreamer - who sees the bright side of life always even though nothing ever went as he planned and he never succeeded at anything but he needs the Marigold Hotel to succeed because if it it doesn't he cant marry Sunaina (Tena Desae), the absolute love of his life because his mother will never allow it and he'll disgrace both Sunaina and his mother by being a failure.
Though The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel didn't get too deeply into Indian culture, they did touch on the Untouchables and what happens after you bring dishonour to your family. It's a heartbreaking concept that still happens there. And I was glad they at least touched on that part of the many other aspects of Indian culture.
This is a movie with a little of everything-love, sadness, arrange marriages, gay love and death. It is a spectacular vision of Indian sunsets and tuk-tuks and the speed and craziness of the rush of the country. It is a movie to move you, make you laugh then sob like a fool when the world has finally betrayed Sonny and he just let it all hang out there. It is a tale of second chances and finding love and adoration in the strangest places.
Though some parts, as I said before, could have been tightened up a little or deleted, this movie is still a classic and I know you check it out. You will not be disappointed.