You’ve probably heard of John Madden’s other directed movies like The Debt and Shakespeare In Love. He seems to have a knack for creating powerful character stories, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel doesn’t fail at that. Also, the India setting really helps as it just feels very livening, and you can already tell some powerful things are going to happen to the characters while there.
Several British retirees feel they need a change, or land in India because they have a reason they have been brought there, such as medical reasons. Upon arriving though they discover that it isn’t quite what they expected as the hotel is a little bit run down, some make the best of it while others are more reluctant to accept the situation. Evelyn is a widow, and feels she needs to escape the routine of her life to move on. Graham is retired, and is returning for closure to India because of something in his past. Douglas has recently invested in his daughter’s business, and his wife is frustrated they can’t afford a better living situation because of it. Muriel is there for surgery and Madge and Norman seem to be there to try to rekindle romance in their older single years.
Judi Dench is sort of the lead it seems as everyone warms up to her as soon as meeting her. She portrays Evelyn, the woman who has been widow. The dynamics that center around her keep her interesting, and relevant to the movie. Tom Wilkinson’s character seems the most complex though, and offers the most growth and surprises as Graham. Another character that I unexpectedly liked was Bill Nighy as Douglas, I think is character is likable from the get go, and experiences an interesting story.
You also can’t forget Maggie Smith as Muriel who has a prejudiced against Indians, so moving into this environment gives her a huge learning experience. There are so many characters though that some of them just seem to get lost in the story, and feel meaningless like Norman and Madge. The way their stories end up just add nothing to it, and they feel like other parts other parts of the story that are just repeated through them.
Movies about dying though can be downers to watch though as these people are older and are accepting that their status to most people is “Moving out”. The people all handle this with grace though with the exception of a few, and are really trying to embrace this last attempt for change. The setting and story are what keep it from sinking under sadness.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has a few stories that drag and feel meaningless, and sometimes you wish they would have just developed them more as they had potential, but with an already 2 hour run time it feels like they instead just tried to introduce too many of them instead. There are some characters that shine though bringing it to be ultimately a funny, and cute movie about people trying to find their place in a world that has tried to shove them out.
Rating 8 of 10.