Today: April 17, 2024

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The

The great Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith star in what can only be described as the Ocean’s Eleven or Italian Job of geriatric British actors.

The great Dames Judi
Dench and Maggie Smith star in what can only be described as the Ocean’s Eleven
or Italian Job of geriatric British actors.
Accompanied by Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie,
Penelope Wilton and Ronald Pickup, Dench and Smith are part
of a bunch of retirees all in search of a new lease of life at what they are
lead to believe is a luxurious hotel in India. Of course, not all is what was
promised and in that typically Victor Meldrew moment from One Foot in the Algarve The
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not all that exotic.

Directed by Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden, The Best Exotic Marigold
Hotel is all fluff and toodle-pip
quips, but one can’t deny there are laughs to be had. Though Madden
occasionally errs on the side of condescension and films India with a tourist’s
eye, his assembling of a mighty fine cast that are watchable in just about
anything is a success. And why wouldn’t it be, Dench, Smith and, in particular,
Wilkinson are great and Celia Imrie sizzles with some sassy lines in a way that
only she can deliver.

Though at times the script fails to devote enough time to
each character and their own stories – there is a feeling that Madden is
constantly herding each plot line – each character provides a different
pleasure. Dench plays a recently widowed and broke housewife, Smith is an
embittered pensioner who is forced to go to India for a hip replacement, Imrie
is a travelling harlot in search of a man, Pickup is a randy old codger in
search of a woman, and Nighy and Wilton are a broke couple with their marriage
on the rocks. Tom Wilkinson’s character perhaps offers the only biting edge of
the film as a Judge who is tired of his job and ups sticks to where he spent
time as a young man. India is fond to his heart, but also has a hidden pain
that isn’t obviously clear at face value.

Slumdog’s Dev Patel is present as the
ever-optimistic and disorganised hotel owner who has his own relationship
issues between his girlfriend and his mother. Most of the film plays out in an
obvious fashion, which is somewhat disappointing despite all of Madden’s best
attempts at a life-affirming tale about taking risks.

Yet, one cannot deny that even though The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
is formulaic and safe in a way that the overall message of the film argues
against, that there is fun to be had with these OAP’s.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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