Reviewed by: Julia Webster
old age—growing old
retiring, retirees, retirement
expatriots living in India
inn in the Bible
mother son relationship
GAY—What’s wrong with being homosexual? Answer
What about gays needs to change? Answer
Judi Dench … Evelyn Greenslade
Tom Wilkinson … Graham Dashwood
Patrick Pearson … Graham’s Colleague
Hugh Dickson … Judge
Bill Nighy … Douglas Ainslie
James Rawlings … Estate Agent
Paul Bhattacharjee … Dr. Ghujarapartidar
Penelope Wilton … Jean Ainslie
Maggie Smith … Muriel Donnelly
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Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ
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|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)
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.