Director: John Madden
Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Tena Desae
RunTime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Sexual References)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thebestexoticmarigoldhotel/
Opening Day: 17 May 2012
Synopsis: THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.
This reviewer probably hasn’t experienced enough of what life has in store for him, but for most parts of the past three decades he has been in existence in this part of the world, he has been dreaming of going far, far away. There, he will get to experience what life truly holds, and means. While he fumbles in his everyday chores and continues working towards that ideal stage in life, he is glad to have seen this John Madden directed drama, and to get a glimpse of how things may possibly turn out for him in another 30 years.
Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) brings together a filmmaker’s dream ensemble cast to play a group of British retirees staying in a retirement hotel in India. Based on the 2004 novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach, English writer Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You) pens this screenplay which affectingly tells the story of these seven individuals who are just about to embark on what may possibly be the biggest adventures of their lives.
The first thing that grabs your attention is the lovely British thespians involved in this feature film. How can anyone not be charmed by the likes of Judi Dench (J. Edgar, My Week with Marilyn), Celia Imrie (St. Trinian’s, Nanny McPhee), Bill Nighy (Arthur Christmas, The Boat That Rocked), Ronald Pickup (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Mission), Maggie Smith (Gnomeo & Juliet, Harry Potter series, Tom Wilkinson (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. The Ghost Writer) and Penelope Wilton (Match Point, Calendar Girls)? These veterans are why we still believe in movies, that there are still worthwhile stories to be told about life.
Each of the members in the ensemble cast brings something special to his or her character. Dench is a sheltered widow who finds the first job in her life on the trip. Imrie and Pickup play lonely individuals who hope to find luck in the exotic land where the rich and famous frequent expensive clubs. Wilton and Nighy portray a couple who have some personality differences to sort out on the trip. Smith is a somewhat racist old lady who finds the most unexpected joy in India, while Wilkinson is a successful former High Court Judge who is attempting to find closure during the trip.
Every single of the abovementioned actor exudes an enigmatic screen presence which will engage your senses, leaving you reflect on certain of your life principles and values. For the more sentimental viewers, there are a couple of scenes which may leave tears trickling down your cheeks.
Elsewhere, young and idealistic love is personified by Dev Patel and Tena Desae, two Indians from very different family backgrounds. Together with the evidently more experienced English actors, they present a very different side of what life means to the younger crowd.
Shot primarily against the colourful and picturesque backdrops of Udaiphur and Rajasthan in India, cinematographer Ben Davis (Kick Ass, Stardust) managed to capture the magnificence and beauty of the country, while composer Thomas Newman (The Adjustment Bureau, Revolutionary Road) creates a serene soundscape infused with oriental flavour.
The 124 minute movie may not offer any particularly new insights about life, but the sincere presentation and pitch perfect performances of the cast is a fine reminder of what life can offer, if you truly believe in it.
(A beautifully charming tribute to life)
Review by John Li