Thankfully I got a chance on Saturday to catch the art house film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Here’s a film that boasts a bevy of European and Asian heavyweights that seemed too good to be true.
The story involves several retiring Brits who, due to varied circumstances, are either drawn-to, or driven to retire in a run-down hotel somewhere in India run by a well-meaning, energetic and endlessly glass-half-full young manager played by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame.
The retirees are played by Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup. Each brings their own baggage and quirks to the story and it’s a story that grabs you from the very start.
I kept waiting for the air to sneak out and, in the few cases where it seemed imminent, suddenly the story jumped right back into high gear to erase that concern.
This was, without question, one of the best films I’ve seen this year and quite possibly the best film I’ve seen this year. The story is a beautiful ride through every major emotion and that just keeps on winning you over time and time again. I was glad to be the first one at its conclusion to start off the hearty round of applause. I laughed more often and deeper here than I did with The Diplomat and then also shed quite a few tears and my mouth was sore from all the endlessly smiling. A mid-20’s friend of mine emerged from the experience stating, “It took seeing a movie about seniors to re-invigorate my hopes for dating. I want to get out there again and find that person.”
I am, simply put, in awe of this film. Every character will make an impact and everyone one is flawlessly portrayed. The astonishing thing I asked upon its conclusion was how this film is so widely ignored. The answer, I’m quite sure, has everything to do with Americans and their complete lack of interest in anything that looks even remotely foreign (a point the movie plays up quite a bit actually). It’s sad that more people won’t see this amazing movie.
I couldn’t help but to check out the negative reviews and there are a number of them from top critics. Upon reading them first impulse was that it’s time for these reviewers to join the fictional cast in retirement. They’ve clearly seen too many movies to be relevant any longer. A few noted only older viewers will enjoy it. Wrong (as noted, and as clearly seen, by the response of the breadth of the audience I saw it with).