“THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL” — ★★★1/2 — Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton; PG-13 (sexual content and language); Broadway
What if you decided to retire to a foreign country that you have never visited and is far away from your family? For the people in the film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” they have that decision to face.
Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is facing life without her husband and realizes he handled everything for her. Douglas and Jean Ainslie (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) must find an inexpensive place to retire since their daughter used their savings to start her own company. Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) must have a hip replaced but can’t wait to get it done. Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson), on the other hand, decides it’s just time to retire.
All of these folks find an advertisement for a hotel that caters to older people in India. It offers a wonderful lifestyle in modern accommodations for a low price. As they travel, they group together along with Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) and Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie), who are trying to stay youthful by dating younger people.
When they all arrive, they realize the hotel is not as regal as advertised. In fact, not even the phones work. The owner, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), is young and eager to please these first customers. They all decide to stay and see what is in store for them.
What is in store for those who go to this film is a wonderful story of discovery and excitement. Instead of looking at the lemons they have been dealt, most of the group make lemonade.
This ensemble cast works well together and plays off each other like they were together for a long time. The stories of personal discovery are marvelous.
There are a lot of characters to follow in this film, but it is easy to do. The character development, as would be expected from these actors, is wonderful. You may be surprised by Maggie Smith’s character. She is not Professor McGonagall, but she is still as intriguing. Dench is fabulous as she tries to make sense out of the life her husband made for her. All of the other actors do a fine job as well.
This film is wonderful, but it does have somewhat of an edge. It is not a violent story, but there is some racism, though not in any sort of accepting way. You will hear profanity, and there is a bit of drinking by many of the characters. As for sexuality, it is present, and there are a few scenes dealing with adult content, though nothing is ever shown on screen. One woman does disrobe in the dark and get into bed.
The story is a wonderful example of never being too old to try something new.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is rated PG-13 for sexual content and language; running time: 124 minutes.
Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.