THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

Within seconds of viewing the trailer for this film, I could not wait to see it. I hoped that the film was as good as the trailer. It is a very familiar situation—the trailer shows the best parts of a film. How many times have we been disappointed in the film because we had already seen the best parts in the trailer?

But in the case of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, the film delivers and delivers. In fact, the trailer made it seem like it was more of a comedy, it had a lighter feel to it. The film is actually not a cute little British romp with aging actors playing old people. This is not a film about the pain and suffering of getting old. It is not filled with geriatric jokes. This is not a film about a hodge podge group of losers who have no family or friends and that no one would miss them if they left the country. And this is not a film filled with Indian stereotypes that perpetuate the myths and fears of many.

This is a film with an actual story (how about that for being radical?) about multi- dimensional characters. For very unique reasons, they leave England for India. The hotel they are all booked in, is similar to them. It is very rough around the edges, kind of falling apart, and waiting for something to happen. The hotel and its guests are a perfect match. Emotionally, the men and women are a little worn out, just like the hotel.

These characters have life stories and the director, John Madden, is intelligent enough to let the actors be. He puts the camera on them and lets them talk. The simplicity of the scenes are what makes this film stand out: Maggie Smith sitting in her wheel chair, telling the young woman who speaks no English, what she did for a living and how her life did not turn out as she had planned and Tom Wilkinson sharing with Judi Dench the reason why he came to India. These scenes are only two examples of how the power of the film shines through-the acting, the script and the directing all work together because, and here it is friends, there is a respect for the audience. This is a film that assumes that you are smart enough to get it. To get the humor, the tension, the culture and the passion…to just get it.

We see the busy and crowded streets. We see the many colors of the market place and we see the people in motion, there is constant movement beyond the hotel walls. The characters are mostly explorers, in their own way, and they are all seeking something from this Indian city. And ultimately, everyone learns something from everyone else. And as hectic as life is on the streets, the real drama is consistently at the hotel.

This could have been another kind of movie, with silly broad humor that would be at someone’s expense. There could have been nastier people, so it would be fun for us to hate them. But even the “least likeable” character, played beautifully by Penelope Wilton, is a very unhappy person who never wanted to spend a minute in India. Her anger and her fragility is clear, and so we know she is struggling and that she is not going to make it. We don’t hate her, we feel sorry for her.

So in a summer of men wearing capes or climbing towers or redheaded heroes (all movies I want to see), go see this film too. This film is not going to make the millions of dollars and euros that the blockbusters will make, but here is your chance to see a film of quality where the heroes of the story are just regular folk.

Recommended reading: THE GRIEF OF OTHERS by Leah Hager Cohen. This is a fantastic family drama by one of my favorite writers.

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Comments

  • Karen  On June 27, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I loved this movie too. Don’t miss Moonrise Kingdom which is another fantastic movie.

  • Jean Langley  On June 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I enjoyed the movie and tried not to feel insulted by the local reviewer who said only women of a “certain age” would like it. He also said it was too long. Well, guess what. The theater was packed, and the demographic was not as limited as the reviewer would think. I had free tickets to the theater because several of our libraries bought a 15 second ad at the Solomon Pond theater for our summer reading promotion. I dragged my neighbor there early, and we still missed the ad. Instead, we saw a bunch of previews for movies we will not see. That’s why Marigold Hotel was such a treat — rare in the summer to see a movie with character and soul.

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