The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is truly a great movie for many reasons. But first off, I must confess I like old people. I think old people are interesting and have interesting perspectives. But I especially love older British actors/actresses. Well, this movie is a boon of old people and very good actors/actresses.
The premise of the story is that seven older people in England travel to Jaipur, India to live in a hotel for older people. The seven people all come for different reasons. Evelyn (Dame Judi Dench) came to find a cheaper place to live after her husband passed and left her with lots of debts. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) comes to India to seek out an old flame from his youth. Norman (Ronald Pickup) is there to find himself a new lover. Muriel (Maggie Smith) has come to get low cost hip replacement surgery. Madge (Celia Imrie) is in India to land herself a wealthy new husband. Lastly are Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) who invested their retirement funds with their daughter and had to find a cheap place to live in the hopes that they would eventually recoup the money. The hotel is run by Sonny (Dev Patel).
Well, the guests arrive and the place is not what they were expecting. Sonny is eager, but is not a great manager. He’s much more in love with the idea of the hotel and what the vision of it that his father had than by the actual running of a business. To complicate matters, he is in love with a lovely girl Sunaina (Tena Desae), but Sonny’s mom does not approve of the modern woman that she is. Evelyn seems to thrive in India. She gets a job for the first time in her life. Graham spends so much time looking for his past lover. He finally reveals that he is gay and that the person is a man. It takes awhile, but then Graham finally gets to see his old friend. He is old and living with his wife, who incidentally knew the whole story of Graham and her husband. But just as they reconnect, Graham dies. Apparently he had a heart condition and knew that he would not be returning to England.
Muriel doesn’t seem to like the country at all, but the woman caring for her and cooking her meals takes a liking to her. Not only does she seem to like her, but invites her to her home to meet all her family. It’s a hilarious scene. And lastly the couple of Douglas and Jean… They could not approach their situation in completely different ways. Douglas seems to really love India. He spends his days visiting different temples and various sites. Jean spends her days at the hotel. She is so bothered by the sights and sounds that she insulates herself and becomes a bit of a bitch.
In the end, things work out of the best. Those seeking companionship end up with someone. The nice thing is that Jean admits to Douglas that things were not working out, so she goes back home. He stays and ends up starting a relationship with Evelyn. Sonny is finally able to convince his mother that Sunaina is the woman for him. And the best part is that Muriel ends up convincing the bank to fund the hotel and she stays on as a manager.
While this may not be the best description I realize, you really should watch the movie. It’s visually delightful. The cinematography is wonderful. You get to see the loveliness of India and the people. What’s also super fun is that Douglas and Jean were husband and wife in another movie. If you can guess which one it was, you win a prize :). Mostly this movie is about relationships and creating new experiences.
I give this movie a 9 out of 10.