The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
It's nice to have a film in the cinemas that appeals only to those over twenty four… but did it have to be so predictable?
A collection of British OAPs make for India (a) after the death of a loved one (Dench); (b) to recover from a poor financial investment (Nighy and wife Penelope Wilton); (c) in search of the past (Wilkinson); (d) to find purpose after retiring (Smith); (e) and to find love (Celia Imrie and Donald Pickup). They book into 'the best exotic marigold hotel' and find to their dismay that its current state doesn't match the image in the brochure… and that's been kind. Their shared experiences, however, enrich their lives more than any luxury hotel could.
Apologies if that last line looks like it was lifted from the press notes or the poster (it is solely the work of this reviewer) but... Marigold Hotel has that effect. It's highly predictable – Smith's vile racist softens to love the country and its people, Nighy's henpecked husband finds his voice, Dench learns to live on her own, etc – and light on real drama but there is a niceness to the proceedings that's hard to ignore.
Director John Madden steeped viewers in an impossibly picturesque Greek island for Captain Corelli's Mandolin but flips that experience here. This India is painted as a country you have to think long and hard about visiting: it's loud, fast, overwhelming and the old cliché that Indian food can be sometimes disagreeable rears its head when all the characters succumb to the trots at one point.
It's not his movie but Dev Patel steals the show. Playing the manager of the hotel – what he lacks in business acumen he makes up for in enthusiasm – Patel is a ball of energy throughout his losing fight to keep the hotel open. His romance with Sunaina (Tena Desae) suffers setbacks as her brother and his mother frown heavily on the relationship but the upbeat Patel never seems to waver. Marigold Hotel needed this character to lift everything before it was dragged down into melodrama and Patel delivers.
The Richard Cutis cuteness does tend to grate before the overlong run-in finally give away to the end credits, though.
Story by Gavin Burke | 17:13 | Tuesday 10th July 2012 | DVD review
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