Review of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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A 2012 British comedy-drama surrounding a group of British retirees who travel to India for a change of pace. In what was advertised as a luxurious hotel, the travelers quickly realize the Marigold Hotel is not what they had hoped for. However, it slowly begins to charm them in unexpected ways. Based on Deborah Moggach's 2004 novel "These Foolish Things", the movie features an ensemble cast, with Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith & Penelope Wilton.
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Movie Review: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" --

Rating: PG-13
Length: 124 minutes
Released: February 24, 2012
Directed by: John Madden
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This surprising new film has something for everyone. Though a story about old people might seem to have nothing to offer a younger audience, that impression could not be more wrong. This charming story is full of great humor and contemporary, compelling ideas. Beautiful in both idea and scenery, this film will have your attention from the first moment. The story is funny, moving and full of all of the twists and turns that make for a good time at the movies.

The story opens with one of the main characters, Evelyn (Judi Dench), realizing she can no longer afford her apartment. Her husband has recently died, leaving her with a mountain of gambling debts. Since she can't afford to pay them, she needs to think fast. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is appalled to discover that the surgery she needs is now only available to her in India. This creates some interesting twists as the character is forced to confront her racist attitudes to get the treatment she needs. Two other primary characters in the film, Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton), also find themselves in financial trouble. When their daughter's Internet start-up company fails, they have to change their own lifestyle to help her out of her financial bind. Several other characters, Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie), think that they might find love in India, hopefully with someone well off. High Court Judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson) experiences a midlife crisis when his retirement draws near, which sends him running to India in search of a long-lost love. His story goes all the way back to his teenage years, with some tragic and terrible secrets lurking in the wings.

As luck would have it, all of the members of this ragtag group happen to hear about the same Indian hotel. Advertised as the best exotic marigold hotel for the elderly and beautiful, the hotel is a sprawling affair embedded in the rich landscape of India's Jaipur. Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) owns the sprawling and quirky hotel. Though he is putting the best he has to offer into his business, his attention is divided between work and his own complex set of problems. His confused approach to business is reflected in the surprise that the all-star British cast encounters when they arrive at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. When you put this kind of dry, fresh humor in the setting of the wacky "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," you get a great film that will give you many good laughs, especially considering the hotel is not what these proper British people were expecting. The phones don't work, and some rooms don't even have their own doors. It is a comedic setup from the beginning and a journey definitely worth taking to the end.

Even if this film didn't have such clever charm, it would be worth seeing just to experience India. India is an amazing country, full of lovely green landscapes. The colorfulness of India's natural beauty will take your breath away as you see it through the eyes of the characters. Beyond the beauty of the Indian landscape, you also get to enjoy the rich beauty of Indian aesthetics. The beautiful tapestries and clothing will dazzle your eyes as the characters adventure in this gorgeous foreign land.

There is more to the movie than just beauty and humor, though. As with any movie that involves older people, there is a chance to explore bigger ideas. During the course of the film, you get a front-row seat to the characters' varied inner journeys. What were the events of their long lives that brought them to this place? How is it that retirement, something that people look forward to as a peaceful time in life, turns out to be one of life's biggest challenges? You can join these characters as they unravel the complicated net of actions versus consequences as they try to make their way in the topsy-turvy environment of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

All in all, this is one movie not to be missed. Judi Dench's name alone is a mark of excellence and gives you your first clue that this film is worth seeing. The relationships that evolve and the ideas that are explored all contribute to the film's humor and depth, which will keep you glued to your seat as the lives of these seniors unfold. This story will take you through heartbreak, exploration and adventure, both without and within. This film is a celebration of life and an exploration of life's greatest adventures and mysteries. Funny, touching and beautiful, it is definitely time well spent.