May 30, 2012 -- The annoying thing about getting older isn't so much the increased aches and pains and such, it is more about being marginalized and ignored. This is especially bad for those of us who were once people who were once noticed and recognized. This movie is about people who are moving on into their retirement years, that dreaded zone where you are ignored, but this particular group takes a leap of faith into a very different culture.
This group of pensioners ends up at the run-down “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful” in India. The hotel manager, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire”). is wildly optimistic about this fixer-upper property he inherited, but the rest of his family, who share ownership with him, would rather sell it. Sonny's idea is to outsource old age at his hotel where people will be so happy they will refuse to die. Well, of course, it isn't that good, but Sonny tries his best.
The film reveals the back stories on some of the people staying in the hotel, but others are a bit mysterious. The introduction of each character at the beginning of the film is a bit like the character introductions in a disaster film. The Marigold Hotel isn't exactly a disaster, but it is in pretty bad shape. The phones don't work and some rooms don't have doors. The meals also leave something to be desired.
Relationships are formed among the guests and between guests and some of the locals. Inevitably, a small but strong community is formed and secrets are revealed. There are eccentric people in the group, like the womanizing Norman (Ronald Pickup of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) and the husband-seeking Madge (Celia Imrie of “Nanny McPhee”). There is also the bitter, racist Muriel (Maggie Smith of the “Harry Potter” movies) who came to India in order to get a cheap hip replacement operation.
The mismatched couple, the mild-mannered Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy of “Pirate Radio”) and his shrewish wife Jean (Penelope Wilton of “Pride and Prejudice”) meets up with the very likable widow with the grit to make it on her own, Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench of “My Week With Marilyn”). Romantic sparks light up as one marriage fades away. A mean old woman turns out to be nice after all and a troubled man finds peace at last.
This mixture of comedy and drama works because of the very talented cast. Some of the dialog is quite good, too. It is also nice to see an intelligent movie aimed at adults for a change. This film rates a B.
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