The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film to turn to when it’s cold and bleak outside and you just want to curl up by the radiator with a cup of tea and feel warmed in mind and body, either by pretending you’re also strolling about in the heat of India alongside the characters, or by just enjoying the sweetness enough to get a nice fuzzy glow in your tummy. It’s a very vibrant and summery film, making it perfect at warding away the winter blues. There are so many colours and the scenes are so vivid that if you concentrate hard enough you can almost smell the spices on offer in the Indian markets (until, that is, you happen to glance out the window and see SNOW in APRIL. Madness!)
It’s a sweet film about a group of people who, for one reason or another, wave goodbye to the UK and head to India to spend their retirement in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful). Whether they have been forced to downsize and emigrate through debt, are looking for love or searching for lost loved ones, or are simply hoping to get a hip operation without a six month waiting list, they are all pinning their hopes on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Unfortunately for them, they arrive to discover it’s not quite finished and is in rather a dilapidated state, with wild birds nesting in their bedrooms and a distinct lack of everyday conveniences such as doors. Still, they power on (even if against their better judgement), because they are Brits of The Old School, and that’s what The Old School does. Stiff upper lips and all that.
It’s fair to say that the actors, too, are Brits of The Old School, and to have such a collection of some of our finest and most treasured actors in one film is rather special. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy all feature, and I challenge anyone to name a film starring any one of those three which isn’t completely marvellous. I’ll bet you can’t do it, because they just don’t make bad films. Having the three of them acting together really made me want to rub my hands together with glee. They were all a joy to watch, as always. Throw cheeky Celia Imrie into the mix, and it’s quite the barrel of fun. It’s especially nice to see Maggie Smith, who has become ingrained in so many minds as the very prim and proper Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey or as the stern and (again) prim and proper Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter franchise, playing someone who’s a bit dowdier, more working class, and quite a lot more prejudiced.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel might be a film about the older generation, and starring the older generation, but it’s certainly not aimed at the older generation – it’s aimed at everyone, whatever their age, and I think every generation will find something to appreciate in it. Okay, so it’s rather predictable at times, it’s quite a slow-paced plodding story and it basically was exactly how I thought it would be, but that’s not off-putting. If anything, I’d say there was something quite reassuring about it. So what better film to enjoy alongside a nice, reassuring cup of tea and a reassuring snuggle in a cosy, reassuring blanket in front of a blazing, reassuring fire. Best put the kettle on.
See previous Film Review, featuring Kung Fu Panda.