Sunday, May 13, 2012


Went to see this movie last night with a good friend and came away smilingly satisfied.  The reason we went was the amazing cast. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith would have been enough to get me out to see it. But add in Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Dev Patel (the young man who gave SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE it's heart and soul) and there's no excuse for everyone not running out to see it.

The acting was so good it was like watching a lesson in how to create a great screen performance. Credit of course to John Madden, the director (who first won many of us over with SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and HER MAJESTY MRS. BROWN) and to Deborah Maggach who wrote the novel the movie is based on and Ol Parker for adapting it to the screen. But basically, it's the actors' film.

The story has some twists that in a few cases you could say were contrived or too pat [including the ultimate "wisdom" and/or inherent "goodness" of all the Indian characters etc.], but that is also the sweet reward in experiencing it. There are plenty of surprises, even if some of them are convenient to creating the kind of satisfaction a well worked out and resolved story can offer. But the main delight, I can't say too often, is watching these actors, most in the later stages of their careers, make every scene worth watching repeatedly just to see them bring them to life.

Even the lesser roles are wonderfully realized. THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is a comedy in the classic sense, but there are moments of such tender disappointment and acceptance of the reality of the inevitable decline of the main cast members and the characters they play that if it weren't ultimately a classic comedy (as well as a post-modern one that evoked to my mind the spirit and strategies of a  movie like LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) it could have been too depressing to watch.

But the vision of the story, no matter how realistically or unrealistically optimistic it might be, is that some form of redemption, and therefore rebirth, is always possible, even if only emotionally and even if only very late in the game. Though there's so much more in THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL than just that. Scenes and images from it keep coming back to me and I can't stop smiling. Not a bad recommendation.


Anonymous said...

Loved this movie...saw it yesterday for mother's day. Also saw BERNIE, with Jack Black, which is good. If you haven't done so already, don't read reviews of Bernie 'cause they give away too much plot.
MARIGOLD..made me want to return to India.


Lally said...

You're digging it means a lot to me Suzanne because I've never been there and so have no personal reference point as to how realistic some of the settings and situations and characters were. But as I said in the post, even if it was to some extent comic fantasy, it still was so much fun to watch older actors who look their age bring these characters to life so vividly. Can you imagine Hollywood actors that age doing it? They'd all look thirty years younger with frozen faces and few wrinkles and be impossible to identify with (except for maybe Tommy Lee Jones).

tom said...

This is a film I had hoped to see, but it isn't showing at any of the theaters near us (That includes a 120 mile driving area) So it will have to wait until we are in Minneapolis long enough to see it or more likely until it comes out on video. There was a good NPR interview with one of the actors. It has been almost 40 years since I spent a summer in India (Teacher program) and I would love to go back sometime.

Lally said...

Hope you do get to see it in a theater Tom. There's something about watching great acting on the big screen that makes it even more impressive.