The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review
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Hollywood is a place for the young, svelte, and beautiful. It’s a place where most celebrities work overtime to prevent things like wrinkles and cellulite and other visible effects of aging. They do not grow old gracefully, for fear that they’ll be relegated to bit parts as some young starlet’s mother (or, worse, her grandmother). It’s rare, then, to see a film that shines the spotlight on actors who have passed retirement age. But leave it to the Brits—and director John Madden—to remind audiences that aging actors can still put on a pretty good show.

Based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, Madden’s mature comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a (mostly) charming ensemble of elderly Brits as they decide to relocate to India—to what the Internet tells them is a newly-renovated luxury hotel “For the Elderly and Beautiful.”

  
 
Each one has a reason for the move. For many, it’s financial. For Muriel (Maggie Smith), it’s health related. Others are simply looking for a new adventure—or a new husband. And the Marigold Hotel seems like the perfect place to spend their golden years.

When they arrive in the bustling city of Jaipur, however, the travelers discover that their new residence looks nothing like the pictures on the website. Still, their eager young host, Sonny (Dev Patel), is determined to keep them happy and make his hotel a success. And as they become accustomed to their new and unfamiliar surroundings, most of them begin to make friends, appreciate the culture, and enjoy their new lives.

Like its remarkable ensemble cast (which features everyone from Judi Dench to Bill Nighy), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is graceful and elegant and irresistibly charming. With its good-natured sense of humor and its thoughtful, eloquent narration, it’s a refreshing change of pace from the same old in-your-face outrageous comedy.

Of course, with the seven main characters and their young host each involved in a storyline or two, it means that the film often resorts to stereotypes and clichés for some of its basic development. It also skips over any explanation of how everyone ended up at the Marigold. But, with a cast like this one, you won’t really mind. Sure, not every character is entirely lovable. It will take some time for Smith’s scowling Muriel to grow on you—and Penelope Wilton’s resentful Jean, who refuses to leave the hotel or try anything new, is almost unbearable. Still, the cast’s playful performances make the film light and enjoyable—a delightful mix of gentle drama and easy-going comedy.

The city of Jaipur, meanwhile, adds to the film’s appeal. With its vibrant markets and bustling streets, the exotic locale only enhances the film’s personality, taking an otherwise relaxed comedy about a bunch of old people looking for a little adventure and turning it into something that’s bright and colorful and even magical.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may not be a wild and wacky Hangover-style adventure, but, smart and beautiful and refreshingly grown-up, it’s a lovable journey with a group of actors who prove that the retirement years don’t have to be dull and depressing.

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