The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Reviewed by Heidi Nast
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is packed with a star-studded cast featuring Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel and directed by John Madden whose previous films include Shakespeare In Love. The film was shot in 9 weeks on location in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India and the cast and crew fell in complete awe with the sights and sounds and most important, the people. For Dench, this was her first trip to India and can hardly wait to return “whilst on holiday.”
This is a delightful film, well-acted and offers pure entertainment as the audience takes in the essence of India. One can almost taste the food, smell the street markets and are inclined to reach through the screen and grab a handful of dried marigolds and crunch them between your fingers. It has strong undertones of love, of love lost, of sadness and of enlightenment with satisfied closure. Intertwined is a strong message to not look backward or forward because of the “good stuff” in between that often times, each one of us misses in our own personal journey. It’s about getting on in years, and how each strives to continue as independent beings, even under the auspice of great adversity or financial constraints. It’s about being yourself; on your terms, even if the hand you are dealt is not what you had planned on. It’s a lesson of how to pick oneself up and embrace the fundamental concept that life is a privilege and not merely a right, to take risks and dive in head first and swim out to the other side, to find a way to cope and thrive in celebration of life’s continual changes.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is marketed as a respite for the “Elderly and Beautiful” but the reality is quite different. Instead, these British expatriates’ senses are assaulted with vivid hues of color, of street congestion, a barrage of rickshaws, of camels, cattle and chickens listlessly roaming free, crowds on foot, unseemly mayhem and stench that permeate the air they breathe in. But as time goes by, there is a reason why each collided on this dilapidated oasis. In the end, it’s a stopping point for new beginnings to come alive that makes this film so inspirational, so much so the theater audience yelled bravo with loud applause afterward. And that kind of reaction I rarely witness, ever!