The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  

United Kingdom, 2011.  Blueprint Pictures.  Screenplay by , based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A sterling cast more than makes up for a forgettably twee screenplay in this enjoyable romp about love among the silver set. A group of seniors find themselves in downtrodden financial circumstances and discover that an appealing possibility for survival lies in taking advantage of an offer to stay for free at a new resort in “exotic India”. When they get there, they discover the place to be a run-down dump being operated by a young entrepreneur (Dev Patel) who is absolutely certain that with their help he can turn it into a dream vacation spot. The characters in this adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things then have their own subplots, among them Judi Dench mourning the loss of her husband and then taking a job working for a call centre,  and  having differing attitudes on their new location that affect their marriage,  going in search of the man he loved decades earlier, ornery retired housemaid  there for discount hip surgery, and  looking to land yet another rich husband. It’s completely unimportant fluff, with the Indian characters relegated annoyingly to charming background filler, but it has its benefits:  listening to Dench speak dialogue is one of the greatest pleasures that the modern cinema has ever offered, and here you get the added treat of watching her listen to other characters, which she does with equally awe-inspiring depth. Sadly, she and Smith, the film’s best characters, don’t spend any time together on screen (which they even lament at one point), but they make it worth the watch.

Golden Globe Award Nominations:  Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Judi Dench)

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations:  Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith)

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