Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Lowdown: Several old British folk retire to a derelict hotel in India.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film whose claim to fame lies entirely with the names behind it. These names represent the best of British, to quote a Melbourne car dealership ad: on the actors side we have Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith (for a start); behind the camera we have director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, and more recently The Debt). With such a list it is pretty much guaranteed many, including yours truly, would line up to see what force drove all of the above to combine their talents.
Having watched the film, my guess for an answer would be India. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of elderly British folk who, for their own individual reasons, decide to leave their past behind them and move for retirement in India. These people, cast by that impressive A list I quoted from before, are motivated by a multitude of reasons: the death of a husband, finances, not being able to take their patronizing kids anymore, longings from the past, and of course – sex. They all answer an ad to come and retire at this exotic hotel in India, converging at their shared flight. The trouble is, that hotel is not as exotic as its title might lead them to believe; it’s in shambles, and its owner (played by Dev Patel, of Slumdog Millionaire fame) is suffering from financial problems. That, and his longing for a beautiful call center girl that happens to not be his mother’s preferred match.
Rest assured: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is as feel good film as they come. By the end of it all our English heroes would use their stiff upper lip to combine with their Indian counterparts and act Indian like so that all would be well and the sun would forever shine. Actually, some of the endings are not that rosy, but in between stereotypes there is firm closure throughout. It is quite obvious the English cast had enjoyed its adventure in India, too.
Alas, we may laugh occasionally and feel slightly touched by some of the personal stories, yet The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not a film to use its talents in order to take the art of cinema where it hadn’t gone before. It is a simple film, made for fun, a film that fails to challenge any of its talents to produce anything that even slightly tickles their acting skills. This may not be illegal, but thoughts along the lines of “what a waste” did cross my mind.
Worst scene: There are many demonstrations for unnecessarily contriving things, starting with the way Patel’s hotel owner character likes to express itself. However, the most annoying was the short cut featuring one of our elderly English heroes as he reads the Kama Sutra in bed. As attempts to show the British confronting the Indian go, this one is far too cheap a shot.
Overall: Nice, but nothing more than a group attempt of some powerful English movie making stakeholders to have some fun in India. 3 out of 5 stars.


Uri said...

You make it sound like Enchanted April. Did you see that? Is it really similar?

Moshe Reuveni said...

Sorry, I don't remember Enchanted April. From the vibe I got at imdb it doesn't smell like Enchanted is a comedy; on the other hand, it says that movie is slow moving whereas Marigold isn't.