Getting old in the UK sucks, it’s official.
If you are also a bit short of cash you might want to find somewhere where your grey pound goes a bit further.
Spain, France or how about India, that “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” sounds like an excellent proposition, to gracefully see out your retirement years.
So decide, an eclectic bunch of couples and singles, covering most of the stereotypes of British retirement traits.
Shrill, unjustifiably snobby and opinionated Jean (Penelope Wilson) & decent but hen pecked husband, Douglas (Bill Nighy). Racist, wizened “old dear” Muriel (Maggie Smith), with a pressing need for a new hip, as long as it is not installed by “one of them”. Smith, with an accent that would be out of place in the Kitchen of Downton Abbey, let alone “upstairs”.
Norman (Ronald Pickup) an aging Lothario, Madge (Celia Imrie) desperately seeking any man with a heartbeat and a fat wallet, “I’m alone by choice, just not my choice” and Evelyn (Judi Dench) bringing some sense of reason and tolerance to the group.
Finally, we have Barrister Graham (Tom Wilkinson) with his own agenda for leaving his stuffy law office behind.
Our merry band of emigrants descend on a perceived haven of misspelled old world luxury and rest and relaxation, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. The truth of course is less than they might have expected. Energetic hotel manager Sonny (Dev Patel) does his best to put an Indian optimistic spin on a half renovated, dilapidated hotel but in reality, this is not the dream the glossy brochures promised.
The fun of course is how the group and individuals react to their new life and subsequent loss of a dream.
With the cast on display, it goes without saying that the acting is of a high quality. However, stereotypes are ever present, Sonny’s girlfriend Sunaina (Desae) works in a call centre, Muriel’s meals are brought by an “untouchable” but the feel of the movie is good natured and director John Madden does not set out to offend in anyway. That life in India is different, in some ways better, some worse, is obvious and suits some but not others.
“Everything will be alright in the end, if it is not alright, it is not the end”, very mystical but it does not fix your leaking tap.
The perhaps unintentional central message of “it sucks to get old” comes through but the subtext of making the most of every day is a universal message we can all take away.
Not a lot happens, characters change and we learn more about the background of the individuals. There are light moments, however this is more of a drama than a comedy but the target market for the film should come away with a solid nights entertainment.
Filmed almost entirely on location, the film makes good use of the local colour and chaos, the cast clearly enjoying what must have been a great, although difficult, filming experience for all concerned.
Hard to criticize such a pleasant film that tries hard to please and covers most of the bases. On occasion a bit more downbeat than the trailers might promise but overall “uplifting” might be the final feeling taken away. Certainly, if the premise of the story brings you to the cinema, there should be few surprises in store.
If the trials and tribulations of following a mixed bag of English retirees suffering culture shock as they outsource their retirement to India is of interest, then there will be plenty to enjoy here.
Audiences born after 1990 should bear in mind the above.