The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a Fox Searchlight film with many actors whom you will recognize, regardless of your age: Maggie Smith (from the Harry Potter movies), Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, to name the top few. It also has Dev Patel, from Slumdog Millionaire, as an entrepreneurial young man who is trying to run the Marigold Hotel - or, to use its full title, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful. The movie has a lot of heart, as well as great music and cinematography, but it tended to run a bit slow throughout.

All of the above characters end up staying at the Marigold Hotel, but all for different reasons. Muriel (Maggie Smith) needs a hip replacement, and if she doesn't fly to India to get one at a fraction of the price, she will be on a long waiting list in the U.S. instead. Douglas (Bill Nighy, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) and his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton, TV's Dr. Who) are broke, and go to the hotel instead of living in a tiny apartment. Evelyn (Judi Dench, My Week with Marilyn) is newly single, as her husband just passed away, and wants to go on an adventure in India. Graham (Tom Wilkinson, The Debt) has just retired from being a judge, and grew up in India; he hasn't been back in forty years, but there is someone special whom he wants to look up there. Madge (Celia Imrie, TV's Kingdom) comes to India to have a good time. And finally, Norman (Ronald Pickup, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), doesn't really have a clear reason, but it seems like he wants to find a girlfriend there, even at his "advanced age."

None of them have been to India before except for Graham, and they meet each other on the flight going there. They soon find that the Marigold Hotel is not as it appeared to be in its brochure - as Sonny (Dev Patel) cheerfully says, the brochure represents "how he imagined it to be" rather than the hotel's actual condition. However, India soon charms most of the guests, and each of them find their own reasons for liking it.

Maybe see this film. The movie is at its best when it is also at its wittiest, as it is for most of the first third or half. Both beautiful scenery and Indian music abound here as well. When the film starts to slow down, and gets more serious at the same time, it started to drag a bit for me. I did like the ending; I just wish it had taken less time to get there, though at the same time I can't think of any scenes that I would have cut. Marigold Hotel will most likely find a more captivated audience in the older generations, but fine performances are given by the core actors throughout, which can be appreciated by anyone regardless of age.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is in theaters today, May 4th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 124 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.

*Author's note: I saw a screening of this film on March 14th. The version I saw may or may not be the final version.

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