Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Lillete Dubey, Diana Hardcastle, Ramona Marquez and Liza Tarbuck.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a British ensemble comedy-drama directed by John Madden, the director who made Shakespeare in Love. The story basically revolves around many British pensioners going on a holiday to a retirement hotel run by a young guy Sonny (Patel) in India. All of these people have their own share of problems, each with their own past experiences and the story shows how much they get effected in various ways by their stay in India which proves both pleasant and unpleasant. To give a rundown of these characters, we first have Evelyn played by the lovely Dame Judi Dench as a recently widowed housewife who had to sell her house in order to cover the huge debt that was left by her husband. Graham (Wilkinson) is a high court judge who spent most of his early life in India, he out of nowhere decides to leave everything and return back there. Muriel, played by the incredible Maggie Smith is a former housekeeper who needs a hip replacement operation but she has to do it in India. The only problem with her is that she is a bit racist, she doesn't feels comfortable around Asians. Then there is this couple, Jean (Wilton) and Doug (Nighy) who lost most of their savings on some project of their daughter and now this is all they can afford, to go to India. And in the end, we have Madge (Imrie) who is looking for another person to spend her life with and Norman (Pickup) an aging man who is keen on re-living his youth days.
You will have a really good time watching this movie, mainly because of its highly talented and beloved British ensemble. There are so many wonderful actors whose presence alone makes this movie worth watching. They breathe a life into this movie, they are dedicated to their characters thus the script being largely weak and of no particular momentum at all doesn't really bothers you much. Most of the hilarious scenes comes when these people experience the life in India, their daily countless encounters are the source of comedy. From the food to transportation and from culture to their customs. For many, the life there is really insignificant, dull and nothing but plain bad. For others, they are able to see the colors, the beauty and the real spirit in the life in India. Movie is shot in Rajasthan mainly, one of the most beautiful places in India. The hotel that they are staying in is actually not what it seemed online or in the ads. Its in deep troubles, its not as luxurious as they made it looked like and now that they are here, they have to adjust somehow. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will certainly please the slightly older crowd, its a movie that they can mostly relate to and they will love it. It got released during a time when superhero blockbusters and 3D movies were getting released, for a crowd that weren't interested in them got to have their own Avengers.
For me, this movie was a bit too uneven. There are some scenes that feels very typical sitcom-ish, offensive and too much. Then some moments in the movie really touches you. It plays in a very safe way so it all feels very much like you have seen it before. Once again, the actors are really able to draw your attention towards them and they make you involved in the movie. If i talk about best performances, no surprise that Maggie Smith gives the best performance in the movie. She is known for playing these kind of characters, largely bitter, offensive and racist yet completely adorable in a way. Her performance is really effective and she has a strong screen presence. Tom Wilkinson has to be my second favorite performer in this movie, his performance is compelling and brilliant. His character is of someone who is hiding many things inside him, his past is something he can't forget and that is something that brings him back. His story was the most interesting and the way it ends was very emotional. Judi Dench was really good too, her character will basically remind you of Julia Roberts character in Eat, Pray, Love. Penelope Wilton plays a wife who hasn't been very happy in her marriage with her husband and is frustrated by everything that happens. She plays a character who is the only person that throughout the movie, doesn't settle for a life in India and wants to just get back. Everyone overall did a really good job but i really didn't like Dev Patel in this movie, his performance is annoying and completely out of place.
About the stories, there are just too many for one to make it feel effective. They all play out in largely predictable way but the cast is what makes them genuine, moving and interesting. A story about self-renewal, giving a second chance, standing up for your own life and searching for something that means something to you. The ending is very heartwarming when you see everyone for one last time in a montage where they are right now, it always feels good. I having nothing else to say about this movie, i had a really nice time watching it.