Delightful. The adjective is often used by critics to describe this heart-warming film or that.
I’m not fond of the word myself, but no other word really gets to the heart of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel like delightful.
An ensemble cast of Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup are retirees from England who move to India to end their days at the beautiful Exotic Marigold Hotel. When they get there the hotel is not that exotic. Nor is the restoration finished.
The hotel is more disaster than anything.
Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel is Sonny, a young man with a vision of making the hotel as exotic as its online description. He has the passion but not the organizational skills or the money. Some of the retirees are fine with the hotel’s condition. Others are not.
The age of the actors and the retirement, last-years-of-our-lives theme tempts you to think this is an old people’s movie. Don’t. Directed by Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden and written by Ol Parker of the little known, but well-written Imagine Me and You, Marigold is about long-time relationships, the death of loved ones, the disappointment of marriage, love and relationships, hope in the loss of hope and adjusting to life in a very different culture.
And what does one do with their “last” days anyway?
Prepare for big smiles. Lots of them. While The Exotic Marigold Hotel is not exactly a comedy, there are moments that move you to laugh. Serious conflicts arise and dramatic things happen. But it’s not a drama either. The best description is that it’s a very well-done character study.
Each character is carefully crafted, and each is played by an actor who lovingly brings out little nuances that add dimension and corners to potentially flat characters. The personal stories make the whole story fascinating, if not riveting. Every performance from this seasoned cast is award-worthy. The script is brilliant. The storytelling perfect.
If it’s not the best movie of the year, it’s close. You will laugh. Some of you will cry. No one walks away from The Exotic Marigold Hotel untouched.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Director: John Madden
Stars: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.