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Movie Review

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language.

Reviewed by: Julia Webster
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy Drama
Length:
2 hr. 4 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
May 4, 2012 (wide—27 theaters, then later widening)
DVD: September 18, 2012
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures

old age—growing old

retiring, retirees, retirement

expatriots living in India

inn in the Bible

telemarketer, telemarketing

widow

Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures

racist insult

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

arranged marriage

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?

marriage problems

hip replacement

mother son relationship

funeral

Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures

gay man

GAY—What’s wrong with being homosexual? Answer

What about gays needs to change? Answer

womanizer

dating

Featuring: Judi Dench … Evelyn Greenslade
Tom WilkinsonGraham Dashwood
Patrick Pearson … Graham’s Colleague
Hugh Dickson … Judge
Bill NighyDouglas Ainslie
James Rawlings … Estate Agent
Paul Bhattacharjee … Dr. Ghujarapartidar
Penelope Wilton … Jean Ainslie
Maggie Smith … Muriel Donnelly
more »
Director: John Madden
Producer: Participant Media
Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ
more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures

“from the director of ‘Shakespeare in Love’”

Sequel: “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2” (2015)

John Madden (“The Debt,” “Shakespeare in Love”) has another winner with “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

The story centers on a group of older British people traveling to India to find an affordable place to retire. All of the characters have found themselves in awkward situations that make them feel they might do better in a completely unknown place.

The group is thrown together almost immediately; as other passengers along the journey slowly drift off to other destinations, the retirees are the only ones left to arrive at the hotel. A funny shot shows all the characters, still strangers to one another, lined up in a row in an otherwise empty airport waiting room.

The Marigold Hotel is designed by its owner and manager, young Sonny Kapoor, as a retirement residence, or as he puts it, “a place for those who have heard the chimes at midnight.” Sonny is attempting, despite his mother’s criticism, to make a go of the enterprise started unsuccessfully by his deceased father. (She needs to learn not to provoke her son, as taught in Ephesians 6:4.) Actor Dev Patel is again earnest and appealing in this role, as he was playing Jamal in “Slumdog Millionaire,” another movie set in India. Thankfully, “…Marigold Hotel” is less horrifying and more complimentary of the country than “Slumdog Millionaire,” and the story is no less interesting.

“…Marigold Hotel,” in a mostly positive way, uses the same hustle and bustle, the same unusual residents, and the same intense and vibrant colors as many films set in India. As one of the Marigold’s resident’s comments, while jostling through the crowds, “The first rule of India is that there’s always room.” The locations portrayed are as much a character in the film as the actors. For instance, the unusual geometric patterns found in existing buildings and landscapes are often used as beautiful backdrops.

The protagonist in the group is newly widowed Evelyn Greenslade, who has been left nearly penniless by her husband. Evelyn narrates the story through a diary she keeps of the group’s escapades. Demure Evelyn is perfectly portrayed by Dame Judi Dench, whose film resumé includes more than one film appearance as Queen Elizabeth (including in “Shakespeare in Love,” for which she won an Oscar®) and several films in which she plays the character M, boss to James Bond. Evelyn grows steadily, from her downcast state, through her experiences, as she relates closely to the rest of the hotel’s residents and the surrounding town.

Another main character is Graham Dashwood (veteran actor Tom Wilkinson). Wilkinson turns in a fine performance as Graham, who is searching for a man with whom he once had a brief romantic relationship while serving in the military in India over 40 years before. Graham is a very sympathetic character, whose kindness to the others is seen as he quietly mingles with them. Their quick and uncomplaining acceptance of his homosexuality did seem a little unreal—wasn’t it uncommon for people of this generation to have occasion to meet a homosexual, and if so, to treat him respectfully?

“…Marigold Hotel” contains other off-color sexual innuendos—one woman admits frankly that she had to perform “phone sex” to get a travel upgrade. Another character is seeking ways to “invigorate” his sex life by using a Viagra-type product and by reading the instructions in the Kama Sutra. He complains that he’s “still got it, and no one wants it.” Eventually, he connects with a woman in a bar and embarks on a relationship with her that ends in their moving in together. In a different instance, Sonny’s girlfriend tells him that she will “wake him up in that special way.” Because of these instances, parents may find the PG-13 rating a little lenient. (Though the adult themes aren’t really an issue, because viewers under age 40 probably won’t be interested in this film.)

The bad language is restricted to several cries of “Oh God” or “my God”!” Typical British obscenities such as “bloody” and “bugger” are also used a couple of times, plus a f-word.

Muriel Donnelly, the sharp-tongued and witty character played by Dame Maggie Smith, makes many nasty comments related to race and color, but, in a sweet turn of events, she learns the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31) from a young servant girl. Muriel’s heart softens as she realizes the truth of Psalm 139, that all of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The changes in Muriel are delightful to watch.

“…Marigold Hotel” is a bit formulaic in its story about a group of many disparate characters caught in an unusual situation, but this style of filmmaking has been used again and again and is almost always enjoyable. Despite its drawbacks, I would recommend the film as a story of courage and growth in present circumstances, despite previous failure.

The moral of the story to “…Marigold Hotel” is stated more than once: “It’ll be alright in the end, or it’s not the end.” Truer words cannot be spoken, as Jesus has assured us: “Surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I found the characters an interesting study, how we are as we age. Finding ourselves in a place where we can embrace or reject what and where we find ourselves. Proverbs 3:4-6, it was a worldview, however the color, smells and the hundreds of thousands in India and their culture was something some rejected, and some found it a positive experience. Was a great movie for my husband and myself to enjoy on an Anniversary weekend…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Barbara, age 70 (USA)
Positive—This movie had some funny lines. However, the plot was a bit slow, somewhat boring, but made watchable by a stellar cast that could do no wrong. The theater was filled with people 60 years old and older. People seemed to enjoy this movie, even though I consider it to be a rather shallow treatment of getting old and being alone. But it was charming, and it was meant to be charming, so it was a fairly positive experience for me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Halyna Barannik, age 66 (USA)
Positive—I went to this movie not really expecting anything. It was a last minute, hey let’s go. I laughed and cried and laughed some more. I love this movie. Nothing exploding. No one getting slashed or murdered. Just a really heartwarming story about people we all have in our lives, and it could be us one day. By the way, I love having a Web site like Christian Answers to check before I spend my money on a movie. It has saved me from a few. Thanks!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mary Ann, age 60 (USA)
Positive—As an Indian, I often wonder why the movies about India rarely produce the true heart and people of India. This movie is no different, just the usual mix, without the real magnificence. The thriving powerful Christianity of India, super-fast economic growth, living standards, none of which you will find in this movie, and that’s probably justified with the theme. However, I can surely say, no Indian, in a million years, would say to his mom (about his lover), “She came to have sex with me!”, as pre-marital sex is still a taboo in India and one wouldn’t introduce a love or fiancé like the movie portrayed.

More than that, no one would dare to hurt the mother by hurting the values the parent taught them. The mother’s response was very accurate, though “don’t ever tell me you are a suitable bride for my son.”

The film, I haven’t completely watched yet, so I might comment again, till now, it’s really great. What a talented team! I think it’s Tom Wilkinson’s best role after Full Monty…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cyril Thomas, age 32 (United Kingdom)
Positive—There were a lot of things about this movie that sounded much worse on paper; so I went into the theater a little bit skeptical about how much I would like it. I ended up enjoying it greatly! I thought it was just a great, fun movie with great performances. It made me laugh more than once, and all of the different plot lines flowed together seamlessly (at least, in my opinion).

There is a homosexual character, but that didn’t really bother me. It’s also one of those stories where Hollywood wants you to root for a marriage break-up; but I thought it was done tastefully. The two people in question were really just friends up until the very end, and the man was planning to stay loyal—his wife was the one that ended it.

There’s a lot in this film that many Christians wouldn’t like, so I won’t give it a big recommendation or anything, but I loved it and thought it was a great girls night movie for me and my mom.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 20 (USA)
Positive—Hi guys and girls, I can’t believe I found such a fab site; I live it Britain and am a member of the church of the Holy JC and have been for 8 years now. Overall, I would have to give this film an 8 out 10, which I’m sure you would all agree that the score 8 out of 10 is the right one for a movie like this one. I found there was nothing offensive about this movie; I love it so much that after I watched the movie I put it back to the beginning and watched it again and when it finished the second time I said to my self I should not watch it again, twice is enough and plus I have work in the morning, and I could do we a good sleep so that the shift goes well, and I can give a hundred a ten percent, because its good to give a hundred and ten percent when your at work.

Anyway, I would just like to thank everyone for there reviews, I’m finding them a great help when choosing a film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Christian, age 42
Neutral
Neutral—I saw this film this afternoon and wasn’t overly impressed with it. At times I had a hard time following the storyline and the relationships between the characters. It’s a movie about it never being too late for second chances and that you can still have a fulfilling life when you’re older. When I walked into the theatre, it was kind of funny, as I saw a lot of seniors and felt like a kid (note my age), ha ha, so I think it appeals to an older audience. Certainly Judi Dench was outstanding in her role, but the rest of the movie felt very flat to me.

There is also quite a bit of offensive material that is presented in a more subtle type of way. There’s one F-word near the end of the film, a few vulgar comments, indications of premarital sex, one scene with partial nudity, a homosexual theme with one of the main characters, and a couple giving up on almost 40 years of marriage.

I did not think there were any redeeming qualities about this movie, at all, and a lot of the humour fell flat. I’ll admit some of it was rather funny, and, from a cultural perspective, the setting in India was very interesting. If you are a Judi Dench fan, please see it, by all means, as she is the one light in a rather bland film. Also, if you are interested in character studies, you might find it interesting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kathy, age 51 (Canada)
Negative
Negative—I am giving this movie a negative rating because of its subtle immorality presented, that we, as Christians, too often accept as being normal, when there are clear contradictions with Scripture. First, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The cinematography was well done, and the film had a superb cast and was well acted. I repeat, I did not dislike the film. However, only upon introspection, and comparing this to the authority of the Bible, does one see the major moral problem that all of the characters face in this movie.

The moral problem for all of the characters in this movie is that they are all trying to deal with their personal problems through self-redemption. Take the Ainsley couple as an example. After losing their retirement money, which they gave to their daughter for an Internet start-up, they decide to go to India for a more affordable retirement. What struck me as interesting about this couple was that the wife was not content in the UK for a lifestyle they could afford. This was evident by her animosity towards the real estate agent. In India, she did not leave the hotel until she followed Graham, whom she was interested in, only until she found out he was gay. So, obviously, she was not content there, either.

In fact, her restlessness was evident even in the end of the film, when she decides to go back to the UK (after a phone call from her daughter) and left her husband in India, saying it was for the best, as it wasn’t working out. The film presents this as a resolution for the best. However, is it? In reality, the mother will have to go back to England, tell her daughter she is divorcing her father, and her father has a new flame (Judi Dench). The results of this decision were conveniently missing from the film. This is what makes this film dangerous. The idea that nothing else matters but self, and immediate gratification.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andrew, age 31
Negative—…to be honest, we were completely disappointed in the positive reviews. While this movie has good artistic merit, beautiful costumes, interesting characters, and creative sets, it assertively promotes quite a few non-Christian worldviews. For example, there is considerable focus on the sexual endeavors of the main characters (i.e. fornication), and, also, a main story line regarding a homosexual relationship.

Please note: We love and accept homosexuals as individual people, however, based on Biblical standards, we do not accept homosexuality as a lifestyle that pleases God. For much of the movie, the character of Graham Dashwood is seeking to find a man whom he had a relationship with many years before. He finds the man and passes away the next day. Mr. Dashwood’s funeral is held at the place where he and his lover consummated their relationship. Later, after Mr. Dashwood’s funeral, the character Evelyn Greenslade blogs that the funeral was held at this certain location: “not a holy place, but perhaps holy to them.” This one particular statement pushed us over the edge, as far as feeling like the movie was actively approving of homosexuality.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Donna And Tom, age 50s (USA)
Negative—This movie presented ungodly behaviors such as premarital sex, divorce, affairs, and homosexuality as desirable and as better choices than behaviors based on Godly principles. I respect and love many people who are in these situations, but I’m against promoting these behaviors as ideals. Almost every character was pursuing selfish goals. Most of them ended up “happily ever after” after accomplishing these goals. The movie is entertaining, and the cinematography is good. However, I found this movie very offensive, because it normalizes and promotes a very immoral agenda.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Claudia, age 44 (USA)
Negative—I was honestly surprised at the review given on here—it did not address the non-Biblical issues of this movie at all, and made it sound like a rather good movie to see. I, however, found it very disappointing. I am 25 years old, but enjoy watching movies made for the “older” generation (“Calendar Girls” is one of my favorites, and a couple of the women from that movie were in this one), yet found nothing in this movie to make me want to watch it again. First, there was the homosexual theme, which was a large part of the story, but it wasn’t even written into the movie in a believable manner, for me. It felt very contrived and fake to me, nothing but a way to say “homosexuality is normal, good, and right”—which it is not.

Secondly, there was Douglas and Jean, the only married couple to come to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Jean was possibly the most unlikable character I’ve ever seen in a movie. I’ve liked villains better than I liked Jean. She was bitter, hateful, ungrateful, mean, and was interested in another man (the homosexual). Even at the end, when the writers “solved” the problem of the love triangle between Jean, her husband and Evelyn (Judi Dench’s character), she was still not someone you could like. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Rebekah, age 25 (USA)
Negative—Wonderful scenography. Stellar acting. Most memorable line: “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.” Having had the good fortune to visit India, I found the movie memorable, but not inspirational. I greatly enjoy “they lived happily ever after” stories. But I think the endings in this film are excessively tidy, and a bit too much in conformity with postmodern expectations.

We can define ourselves in many ways. Most of the film’s characters choose to define themselves through materialistic and carnal, rather than spiritual, descriptors. (Muriel Donnelly’s transformation was exhilarating. Douglas Ainslie‘s long-suffering loyalty is noteworthy. Evelyn Greenslade, as narrator/participant/observer, is irreproachable.) Mr. Dashwood is a homosexual, and defines himself by his homosexuality. Jean Ainsley worships mammon (and the unattainable Dashwood). Norman Cousins strives only for carnality. Madge Hardcastle endeavors to ensnare another unwitting financially ensconced husband.

If self-aggrandizement is mankind’s highest aspiration, then this film is unquestionably meritorious.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sandy Kramer, age 69 (USA)

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