I do not miss a movie if Judi Dench is in it. I am also very fond of British humour in movies. These two ingredients combined brought me to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I sat there laughing and thinking, and I left the cinema feeling quite content.
The story line is plain simple. It follows seven British seniors who travelled to India at the same time (yes, a coincidence indeed) and stayed in the same hotel which turned out to have past the time of its former glory.The reasons of their travel to this destination were not entirely clear; while one of them may have a more plausible reason (retired housekeeper Muriel-Maggie Smith), another a hidden agenda (retired high court judge Graham-Tim Wilkinson), and yet the others were probably lured by the charm of a hotel for seniors in the advertisement they came across online.
Most of these senior came with a relatively adaptable mind and so soon after the initial disappointment or even shock that the hotel did not turn out to be what they had expected, they took it in stride and made the best of what the place had to offer. Evelyn (Judi Dench) found a job, Graham pursued relentlessly to find his long lost friend, Douglas (Bill NIghy) went out to soak up the local culture in spite of his wife’s (Jean–Penelope Wilton) reluctance, while Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie), both unattached, tried to look for a probably partner and excitement in life. Even Muriel, who appeared to be the most bigoted of all, mellowed and accepted the locals around her.
One message in the movie was, “You have failed only if you have not tried”. The only “failure” was Jean, so well-portrayed by Penelope Wilton. but she was gently let go to return home. She came across to be surprising magnanimous with her departing speech to Douglas.
The shared experience of these seniors had enabled them to change. They found new friendship, love and understanding, as well as a new page in their lives.
The acting was suberb. The creme de creme of British actors and actresses were in this movie. Even Dev Petal had matured since his Slump Dog days, but he did pale in the company of the rest of the seasoned cast. His character was there for an added dose of optimism. We heard from him repeatedly, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not all right, it is not the end yet.” Unfortunately, the inconsistency in Sonny’s character development made the role difficult to convince.
With or without Sonny’s sanguine outlook, this was still a feel good movie. Even seniors can change and continue to grow. I was particularly amused with Evelyn told her son to check her Blog. She must have learned a lot since this diffident woman telephoned the internet provider at the beginning of the movie asking about broadband and Wi-Fi.
The critic who believes that the lineup for this movie is only for the 65-year old set and this same audience will not line up fore the Avengers suffers hopelessly from a lack of appreciation for aging gracefully. What about vice versa? I think that people who stereotype something is for the senior and something is for the young only reveal their own narrow-mindedness. They are discriminating on the grounds of Age. I hope those critics who think that this movie is meant only for the elderly will come out of the closet of their negative expectations. We are all growing old one day; don’t be afraid to face it!
The movie was colourful and Jaipur was brought to life at daytime and at night. The story moved at a good pace, as it focused on the “here and now”, which promised hope for the future. I do not think I need to delve into the past of our senior heroes and heroines. They have taken control of their own lives. They have triumphed over that lost generation who think that they are entitled to everything that they have not worked for. Our senior protagonists deserve our applaud.