December 31, 2012
The title is very corny and uninviting, that is a fact. However, the positive word of mouth about this film is so strong, I simply had to check it out when I saw that it was available on the plane I took going to Los Angeles last week. I have to say, I am very happy to have seen this true gem of a film.
I had no idea whatsoever what this was about when I started watching it. The first scene had Judi Dench playing Evelyn, a new widow desperately trying to talk to a call center agent about some investment her late husband made. Then one by one, we get introduced to six other senior British citizen, each with a personal problem of their own, played by other prominent senior British actors, like Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith.
All seven of these people all decide independently to seek some respite from their present predicaments by booking a stay at the "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" in Jaipur, India, managed by a struggling young entrepreneur Sonny (Dev Patel) who is also experiencing his own problem with his domineering mother. Here at the hotel, which unfortunately did not look a least bit like its beautifully photo-shopped brochures, these seven seniors undergo life-renewing experiences.
It was quite a feat for director John Madden (best known for directing "Shakespeare in Love") to tell this story of seven lives with enough depth for the audience to care about their individual stories, not to mention, the story of Sonny who ran the hotel. The treatment was light and pleasant, despite the serious topics, with enough British dry wit and humor (especially from the ever-delightful Maggie Smith) to keep the audience fully entertained. Despite how the synopsis goes, his story about senior citizens surprisingly did not bore me at all. I wanted to see what happens to all of them at the end, and so will you. Do not miss this one. You will feel good afterward.