May 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

On the surface The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not a movie that would target an individual such as myself. There are no explosions, gunfights, car chases, or crazed ax murderers. This is a movie that features a number of elderly people talking for the better part of two-hours. Now, why on earth would I subject myself to such a movie? The answer is fairly simple, I wanted to and it provided a change of pace to my usual stream of horror and other genre material. What I found in this movie is an incredibly sweet and touching trifle that may not flesh all the characters out as much as they need, but there is enough here to hang onto and just enjoy.

Now, I cannot say that I have all that much to say about it, but this movie made me smile, it invited me into these people's lives and I welcome the time we spent together. The plot feels pretty much stock, it is a standard fish out of water tale that relies heavily on the stars ability to carry us through. Well, the stars talents paired with the director's ability to keep the story moving.

The story centers on seven British retirees who all decide to move to India for their retirement. They are lured by the luxurious looking hotel of the title and while they each have their own reasons for making the move, ranging from finding lost love to an affordable hip replacement. What they have in common is the low cost hotel that makes their retirement affordable.

The cast includes Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy as guests and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) as the insanely optimistic and certainly in over his head hotel manager, Sonny Kapoor. Now, I could go into a breakdown of all the individual stories that are woven into the charming tapestry that is this movie, but, quite frankly, I don't really want to and I suspect you will enjoy the movie more getting involved with characters in a more organic fashion. I did not know much going in, aside from what was in the trailer.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a movie that touches your emotions, makes you care about the characters, and makes you want to see what happens after the credits roll. I have seen it simplified as "backwards, poor India saved by aged white folk," but I simply do not see this as being the case. This is a tale where people have a positive effect on everyone in the equation.

It is really nice to watch as these aging Brits discover the hotel is not exactly what was advertised and are forced to either go with the flow or curl up in a corner and wish it all away. There is a great moment in the trailer where Tom Wilkinson's character describes what it is he sees about India that makes him want to be there. It is a very telling scene and helps sum up the movie in one little space.

I really liked this film and while it is not great, it is one that does a lot of things right. The pacing is nice, the characters are clearly defined and I liked the difference between the more repressed British characters and the overly optimistic and outgoing character Dev Patel plays.

It may not be an exciting thrill ride, but it is one that is more than enjoyable and definitely worth spending some time with.


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