All in the twilight of their lives and all for different reasons, a random assortment elderly men and women find their way on a plane to India to stay at a place named the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny, a young and hopeful businessman, looks to try to outsource retirement by offering a place for the elderly to enjoy their golden years. When the group arrives at the hotel, they are a bit surprised by the lack of similarity to the advertisements, only later learning that the images are only Sonny’s dreams of what the hotel will one day become. It turns out that the hotel brings out the individual issues of each of its inhabitants. While some look to reconnect with their youth and the world around them, others find themselves questioning how they live their lives without the amenities they took for granted.
Starring: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Tena Desae (Sunaina), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), Sid Makkar (Jay), Seema Azmi (Anokhi), Diana Hardcastle (Carol)
The majority of the cast falls into one of three different categories: stubborn and unwilling to see the world differently, curious and interested in exploring an unfamiliar land, and determined to find something they thought was lost. Dench, Wilkinson and Nighy fall into the curious category, though Wilkinson has an ulterior motive to find a lost love. All three of them continuously leave themselves open to new possibilities throughout their stories. Maggie Smith appears to be a harden loner at the start but shows an ability to change as she interacts in a new environment. Wilton serves as one of the main stubborn personalities, as she refuses to follow her husband in the exploration process. Patel, redeeming himself for the failure of The Last Airbender, finds himself in a smaller but more appropriate role as the hotel’s hopeful proprietor.
John Madden (not the football coach) puts together a movie that looks at the concept of outsourcing elderly care. When the film starts, each of main characters came from different types of struggles. Some felt pushed to the background and lost in the shuffle of their families. Some were searching for new meaning or for old connections. Regardless, they all ended up at a hotel in India that is not what the brochure projected. It was at this point that each of them took a new journey. Evelyn attempted to find what to do during life after the loss of her husband and stumbled upon a call center in need of better training. Graham had grown up in India and fallen in love with his best friend. Searching for him had been a dream of his for years and he was finally taking the chance. Douglas and Penelope, at the mercy of their family, used the trip to explore something new but their reactions to the new land are dramatically different and cause their relationship to struggle. Muriel was not only outsourced for general care but for surgery as well. She was completely resistant to the new lifestyle until she encountered the only person who seemed to be able to break through her rough exterior. Ronald was looking to find a new partner, even if it meant having to leave home to be successful.
The other side of the story followed Sonny in his struggle to realize his dream. Left with a rundown hotel and no real support from his family, he was out to prove to himself and his mother that he could be a successful manager. While trying to prove it to his mother, he also struggled with trying to prove his love to his girlfriend, Sunaina. While sneaking around with her to make sure his mother did not find out, he failed to reinforce his devotion to her until getting a pep talk from Evelyn. While he had settled for the small victories, like fixing the phones, in the past, he needed to take on his mother in order to find the strength to make his dreams a reality.
While the film loses a little in the depth department, it is still a cute collection of stories with a mostly satisfying ending. It was worth a chance.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5