The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Review

16 Jun

I love most anything British. I love Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Bill Nighy is smashing in anything he touches. Tom Wilkinson is a great actor. Penelope Wilton will always be “Harriet Jones, Prime Minister” to me. Celia Imrie I adored in After You’ve Gone. That being said, I needed to see this film.

“It’s funny. It’s warm. It’s touching.” – Graham Norton

Now granted, it took me a few weeks to shuffle my schedule around to fit it in, but I finally did this week. The 14th actually, as a matter of fact. I love catching the first movie of the day, especially during the summer when the kids are out of school (not mine, everyone else’s!).  It’s relaxing, the theatres are wonderfully empty, and most importantly for me, there were NO KIDS! (I don’t hate kids, but I prefer to enjoy my movie sin bambinos).

From here I’ll put everything else behind a cut so as not to spoil anything, but do know it was a cute film, and a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Let’s start with the aesthetics shall we? The vibrant colors. The sounds, especially the background noise which was conveyed perfectly. The bustle of the crowd around the cast. The activity of the vehicles (yay tuk-tuks!). It was as if they had gone into my head and took out exactly what I picture when I think of India. Watching the scenes unfold and then seeing the old buildings and temples…sigh, the archaeologist in me was happy 🙂 And I will admit the music had me dancing in my seat. The senses were well pleased.

Then came the cast members first respective scenes. I might have them a bit out of order, but just roll with it. I know Judi was first. My heart tore for Judi Dench, who plays Evelyn, during the initial phone call. All she wanted was to distinguish between WiFi & Wireless and to know what they had to do with Broadband, but was unceremoniously propelled back the problem she’s been having the last three months: her husband has passed away and she is having to learn to live life without him. I wanted to reach through the phone and smack the women at the call center for being flippant and acting like Evelyn didn’t just tell her heartwrenching news. It’s harsh, but unfortunately, it’s more truthful than we want to acknowledge.

Then the wonderful Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton were next. They play husband and wife, Douglas and Jean Ainslie, whose retirement funds are tied up in their daughter’s internet start-up, so they are looking to downsize living quarters. They end up looking at a retirement community and the apartment, or perhaps condo, has an emergency box and a help along bar that causes Jean to have a panic attack in a most hilarious fashion.

Tom Wilkinson is introduced as a high court judge, Graham Dashwood, who is attending a retirement party for a fellow judge, only to realize at the party that today is THE DAY that he will retire as well. It was a short scene, but rather to the point and you can’t help but relate with Graham in that we all get in a rut in life. Graham just has the luxury of being able to retire at this point. So he does.

Celia Imrie plays Madge Hardcastle (um, As Time Goes By much?), a single (again!) women in her late prime ready to swoop in and land her next sugar daddy husband. She is leaving, saying goodbye, but when the grandkids say good bye to granny her son-in-law asks, something to the effect of which number husband this will be. Definitely got laughs from the couple of women who were watching 😉 Celia portrays Madge with a wonderful snobbish air, yet keeps her firmly tied to the ground.

Ronald Pickup played Norman Cousins, a single man playing the field. His first scene was at a Speed Dating event. The speed date you see him with told him that she asked for up to a 35 year old. Then the camera pans to him and you see Norman is, of course, an older gentleman. He replies back, with a cheeky smile, that he also wanted up to a 35 year old. You then know that he is definitely going to be the dirty old playboy of the group….and you’ll love it!

Maggie Smith plays the racist, contemptuous Muriel Donnelly. She is in need of a new hip and is at the hospital. She asks to see a doctor and the nurse tells her she has already seen one. Muriel tells the nurse, to the effect, that no matter how much he washes, he cannot wash the color away. The camera then pans to the doctor, a black doctor, washing his hands at a sink. I know my jaw dropped at this scene. I personally cannot recall seeing Maggie Smith play anyone so outwardly racist and do not know anyone myself who is either. The nurse then gets her a differnt doctor and returns with an Indian one. Props to the nurse.

After the cast all decide on going to India (independent of each other mind you, and the only one I can honestly remember why is Muriel who goes there for a cheaper, faster hip replacement), they do the typical film traveling fiasco: storms cause flight delay, the chaos of India is overwhelming to the group at first, not to mention culture shock. At least they are smart enough to elect someone who has been to India (Graham) as the unofficial group leader. Once they finally arrive at the hotel, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful heehee. This is where we have the privilege of meeting Dev Patel’s character, Sonny Kapoor. Sonny is the owner and manager of the hotel and is hurridly trying to finish the hotel before the guests arrive, but isn’t *quite* done.

From here, I will leave you to the rest of the movie. I know I will nitpick it until I have basically told you everything and I wantsomethingto be a surprise. There are plenty of hilarious moments, cute-make-you-go-awww moments, sad moments, and  insightful self-reflective moments. I diwasn’t sure how they were going to wrap up a few of the storylines and despite that the cast are ones who either grew up right after WWII or during Korea, they are all quite spry and open minded (less Muriel and her hip of course). The journey each person takes, on their own and paired up with others, comes across as genuine. I highly recommend seeing this film in theatres, or at least hitting up RedBox or your local rental store. It might not be a young person’s ideal date night flick, but enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon with it.

Let me know if you see it!

P.S. If you want to see how Matt Smith will act in about 30-50 years, watch Bill Nighy. I swear, he moves and gestures like Matt Smith. Or Matt like Bill. Oh, it’s all very wibbly-wobbly.

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