¨Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end.¨
There is a scene near the beginning of the film where you have Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith all sitting next to each other in the airport. Just to get these talented actors together in one movie is an impressive accomplishment. To take them to the beautiful and colorful India is another. How can you go wrong with such a talented cast? Well we´ve seen it go wrong in Hollywood with films like Valentine´s Day and New Year´s Eve, but here director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) was able to give each actor enough screen time for their characters to develop and interact with one another. Another difference between those films is that here all the characters are connected with each other and are living under the same roof: the Marigold Hotel. That allows for the film to flow smoothly. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has one weakness in my opinion, which is the title, but the film does work really well as a feel good comedy. It wasn’t the kind of film that made me laugh really hard, but it did have me smiling throughout the two hours. The beginning is a little slow since we are introduced to each character individually, but once they are all in the hotel together the film works really well. It moves really smoothly from comedic moments to touching and emotional ones, balancing things out really well; and you will leave the theater with a big smile in your face. It is a wonderful film with a talented cast and an interesting script adapted by Ol Parker from Deborah Moggach´s novel ¨These Foolish Things.¨
In the very beginning of the film we are introduced to the main characters of the story. On the first hand there is Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench), who recently lost her husband and learns that she has to sell her home due to his debts. Then we are introduced to Judge Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) who decides it is time to retire from his job and move to India. Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean Ainslie (Penelope Wilton) have been married for nearly 40 years and lost their life´s savings after lending it to their daughter for a business proposition. Just like Evelyn they are searching for a retiree home that they can afford. Muriel (Maggie Smith) on the other hand is in desperate need of a hip surgery and the hospital gives her the option of having it done in India. Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) is single in his 70´s and is searching for a companion or at least a memorable night. And finally there is Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) who is also searching for a partner after having been divorced multiple times and is tired of living with her daughter and grand children. Each one of these people decides to retire at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India after being attracted by the ads on internet of such a magical palace. Once they arrive at the hotel they discover that it is nothing like it was on the ads, but sometimes the unexpected things in life are what make it so enjoyable. Dev Patel plays the Hotel manager and he has a love interest, but the true stars are the senior actors.
Director John Madden has given us a lesson on how it is possible to make a film with several talented actors and give each one of them character depth. We all know how great Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith are, but the rest of the cast was also outstanding. Ronald Pickup had the funnier character and he got the most laughs from me. Celia Imrie was also a delight on screen as well as Penelope Wilton. The film deals with some very interesting issues and I loved the message it got across about being able to adapt to different changes. It is never too late to welcome changes in our lives, and the more willing one is to embrace those changes the better because humans have this special ability to adapt to change, but the problem is that many times we are so comfortable with our lives the way it is that we end up fearing change. Jean Ainslie wasn’t willing to adapt to the change in her life and became a bitter person, but Douglas on the other hand began to see things differently when he was willing to embrace life in India. Another issue that arises here has to do with the way society sometimes treats seniors like a sickness instead of finding better ways of life for them. It always seems like an easier solution to send them to some sort of retirement home, but we fail to treat them the way they deserve to be treated. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel teaches us that there is some wisdom in these senior citizens and that it is never too late to adapt to changes. The cast alone is proof of what a magnificent job these seniors can still do.