The Wife had seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel several weeks ago, with one of her friends. So when I finally got a chance, I went to the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, by which point it was playing only once a day.
Evelyn (Judi Dench) is a recent widow who had always had her husband make the big decisions. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is a bigot who needs a cheap hip replacement. Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) have an inadequate funds from his work pension. Madge (Celia Imrie) wants more than babysitting the grandkids. Norman (Ronald Pickup) is an aging Lothario. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is retiring from his position. All of them end up taking an adventurous trip to India; only Graham had been there before, and he left 40 years ago.
The hotel, run by Sonny (Dev Patel) is exotic, of a sort, but hardly the best. The story becomes how the seven Brits deal with a place that was not exactly as promised.
There is something rather universal, yet not cliched, about the narrative, though one storyline was not what I would have expected at all. All the characters experience change, not always the ones you might expect. The cast members, as you might imagine, do quality jobs befitting a group of veteran actors, especially in their interactions with each other. And Jaipur, India was most definitely a character in the film as well, as Roger Ebert indicated.
Occasionally, I get interested in what reviewers who did not like movies I liked, and I did enjoy this, as did 77% of the Rotten Tomatoes critics. Tom Long said: “Basically, there’s just too much crammed into ‘Marigold Hotel’ for any of it to have impact,” an assessment I did not experience. He also writes, “It may work as comfort food for old folks,” which, in addition to being condescending, suggests that people without an AARP card could not appreciate it. Christy Lemire claims it’s “old-fashioned, safe and resistant to stray from its comfort zone — like visiting a foreign country and only eating the foods you already know you like;” wasn’t the movie I saw.
This film was – from the list of terms I try to avoid – delightful, charming, intelligent. Worth seeing.