Director John Madden brings together a stellar cast and adapts a great story from Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things. The charming result: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, simply put, is a beautiful travelogue, an Eat Pray Love for Baby Boomers.
Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith are members of a group of British seniors who unfortunately become ‘outsourced’ in their hometown of London. Looking for a better future during their retirement years, they stumble across The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India. The hotel purposefully targets an older demographic to live out their final years in bliss. However, when they arrive at the hotel, it’s not exactly what they expected.
The film immediately begins by letting the audience have a glimpse of each character and the troubles they’re facing. Evelyn (Dench), lost her husband and has been left with his debt, forcing her to sell their flat, leaving her broke. Graham (Wilkinson), a High Court Judge is ready to retire and search for his lost youth. Douglas and Madge (Nighy and Celia Imrie) face a dim future after investing their retirement into their daughter's failed project. Muriel (Smith), a retired housekeeper in need of a hip replacement, can’t afford the high cost in London. All of them quickly find themselves searching for something new and better.
The hotel is run by Sonny (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel), a young man with dreams and ambitions of his own. Left to him by his deceased father, he yearns to turn it into something great. With an overbearing mother, and a star-crossed romance with Sunaina (Tena Desae), Sonny brings forth a bright optimism.
As the film unfolds, everyone is a stranger who inevitably will change not only their own lives, but each other's. Parts of the film, as predictable as they are, fall into place, but it’s such a lovely journey, brilliantly showcasing a generation we (and Hollywood) tend to overlook. As for India, the country shines in its truest form with its beautifully quiet sunsets and its bustling, sensory-overloaded streets.
Are we ever really too old to change? Will we ever have enough time in our lives to be happy with who we are, with what we've accomplished? Take this memorable nugget of philosophy one character offers to another: "Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, it is not yet the end."
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in theaters May 4 (*You can go see The Avengers afterwards).
- Ariel Paredes (@RELworld)