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“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” – EXTREMELY Early Review (POSITIVE)

March 15, 2012

The trailer for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” didn’t really capture me all that much. Too me, it looked like a boring old—old timers loosing their touch with the world kind of film. Then they try to find self-discovery in a distant land, which is India. And, in a lot of ways that’s what we get, but what surprised me the most was how well every characters problems, flaws, or their defect in personality all connect together, while residing under the roof of the Best Exotic.

John Madden directs this dramedy, reuniting him with “The Debt” star Tom Wilkinson, along the way is a full-fledge cast of Britain’s finest including the likes of Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, and Ronald Pickup, as well as “Slumdog Millionaire’s” very own Dev Patel as the Marigold’s hotel manager. The movie just goes to show us that no matter how old you are, you’re never to old to be happy and start a new life all over again.

The story follows a group of British retirees who decide to outsource their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic alternative…India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly ‘restored’ Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Run by a naïve and worrisome hotel manager named Sonny (Patel), these old timers enter into a new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.

The casting is impeccably good here; I absolutely loved, and much of the audience did as well, Maggie Smith’s character Muriel. A seemingly racist old woman, who get’s easily annoyed by anything from another creed, race, or culture. Her character finds herself in India with no choice to receive a hip replacement surgery. Muriel’s character is one of the key essential characters of the entire film that is almost the unnamed guardian of everyone residing in the hotel; the ending really justifies that notion. Judi Dench’s Evelyn finds herself in India dealing with grief after the sudden loss of her husband, which juxtaposes nicely with Tom Wilkinson’s character whose returned to India to find a love that he once thought he tarnished forever.

The characters share similar problems, which makes their interactions work to the advantage of telling a cohesive story that, well frankly, the Golden Girls could never get right. Patel’s Sonny has a subplot about saving the hotel and marrying his girlfriend that his mother forbids, this is the part of the film where I felt it begin to soften too much and become too traditional; like we’ve seen this story told many times before and you pretty much know how it all ends. But, the storylines following the retirees takes a few different/unexpected turns that I found quite refreshing, especially the relationship between [Bill] Nighy & Dench’s character, some how their resolution shouldn’t work narratively, but if it weren’t for Penelope Wilton’s character, the wife of Nighy, it wouldn’t work the way it should. It’s funny seeing Wilton & Nighy as an on screen husband and wife again, anyone recall the last time they were cinematically married? How about “Shaun of the Dead”?

While the movie tends to hit a few story pitfalls here and there, overall it’s justified with a well-conceived conception, based on the Deborah Moggach novel, with some beautiful shots of the country of India, and a well-structured cast that viewers everywhere will have a good time watching under a two hour runtime. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” hits limited theatres on May 11th, 2012

GRADE: B

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