17 June 2012 | TheSquiss
I want to be old, I want to be poor and I want to retire to India NOW!
I loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and I'm not ashamed to admit it. What's not to like? Well, okay, at times it's a little predictable, the premise is wholly unlikely and certain aspects tie up too neatly, but then Shakespeare built a 400 year (and counting) career on such plots and it didn't do him any harm. More recently the same can be said of Billy Elliot, Notting Hill, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
I'm sure you catch my drift. It loses one star for that but I'm not going to knock it.
It's directed by Jon Madden, who helmed Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love and The Debt (we'll gloss over the literary mutilation that was Captain Corelli's Mandolin) and he's reunited here with the star of two of those films, Judi Dench. Not content with casting one of the finest actresses of any generation, he's gathered an impressive who's who of acting aristocracy: Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and topped it up with Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel.
For various reasons surrounding diminished wealth, health and happiness, seven British wrinklies decamp to India to retire and recuperate at the eponymous hotel. Unfortunately it doesn't quite resemble the brochure, lacking phones, doors, rooms
They are thrown together in an experience that challenges their prejudices, makes them reevaluate their lives and, in certain instances, takes them so far out of their comfort zones that all manner of emotions tumble out of them. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film about dismantling and building relationships and learning new things about old selves. It's often funny, frequently touching, occasionally frustrating, constantly inspirational and thoroughly uplifting.
One minor plot line is left unresolved (for me, at least) but the film doesn't end. It simply closes a chapter and so there is great hope. It may not be the greatest film ever but it has its place in the world and will probably earn a space on my DVD shelf. It is beautiful in many ways; the nuances of lesser characters, the touching honesty of principals and the simple, humorous and occasionally poignant dialogue all bring colour and light to the 124 minutes you'll spend in the company of this film.
Beyond all that is delightfully scripted, the overwhelming beauty that floods through the film is the location. The decaying, crumbling ornate temples are magnificent on their own but the striking saris, the vivid blossoms and the heartwarming smiles rekindled memories of my own, all too brief and all too distant experiences of India. I recalled every sight, sound and smell and my mouth watered in recollection of the exquisite meals I ate in dusty cafes and vibrant streets and I wished throughout the film, on my drive home and in several dreams to experience, again, feeling alive in India and perhaps living there.
I want to be old, I want to be poor and I want to retire to India right NOW! Another film review from The Squiss. For more reviews from The Squiss subscribe to my blog at www.thesquiss.co.uk