The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) Directed by John Madden. With Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton and Dev Patel.
Based on the 2004 novel These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, The Best Marigold Hotel is a British comedy/drama ensemble piece about the experiences of a group of middle class pensioners moving to an Indian retirement hotel run by the frantic but well meaning ‘Sonny’ (Dev Patel). At the start, we’re briefly introduced to each character before together, they all jet east on intermingling journeys of discovery. This is a well intentioned film that states we’re never too old to find new experiences – although the heavily airbrushed poster (see above) could be seen as contradictory to that – and that the only failure is the failure to try.
On a base level, it’s commendable, and there are good moments of humour and interplay between the veteran cast. Where the film trips up is in its overly stereotypical characterisations and its tendency to remove itself from reality, to the point that many of the happenings are the things that could only really ever occur in a movie. Per se, that’s not a bad thing, but when the moralising comes thick and fast at the end, the weight of the message is lessened by the heightened state of reality. The film also clocks in at a lengthy 124mins, which is largely due to the sheer number of characters and plot resolutions needing to be tied up, and I did find myself wondering if the story would have been more effective for reducing a few of its more peripheral sub-plots. In summary, this is a film that will play well to its target audience and has just enough optimistic charm to keep it afloat amid the bloated plotting and overly sentimentalised drama. 2.5/5