Last weekend we sat down to dinner and a movie. I was able to convince Rich to give The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel a try since I'd wanted to see it since it came out. It's a lovely movie about a group of aging Brits who, for various reasons, choose to retire to a small independent hotel "for the elderly and beautiful" in Jaipur, India, after being lured by the photographs online. Once there, they come to realize that the aging hotel is far from the luxury promised. Still, they are (almost all) charmed by the beauty and simplicity of India.
With a cast that includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, it's expected that the acting will be outstanding, and it is. However there are a few youthful actors whose performances are equally wonderful, such as Dev Patel and Tena Desae.
Director John Madden and writers Ol Parker and Deborah Moggach obviously know how to tell a story. We meet the Brits in their element as they each prepare to leave the comforts of England. We discover their individual stories and problems and then, as expected, we see how they handle the first shock of this new clime. Although the story moves slowly at times, it's an opportunity to savor the atmosphere and identify with the characters learning to navigate the exotic region.
With time they adjust or readjust, discover things about themselves that they likely would never have discovered in England, and reevaluate their decisions. Probably the best theme of the movie is the idea that life should be lived no matter how close to death we may be. My favorite line comes from Sonny Kapur, who reiterates his mantra several times, "Everything will be all right in the end and if it's not all right, then it's not yet the end."
Now isn't that a mantra for most of us?
Additional reviews by Roger Ebert, NY Times, Rotten Tomatoes