Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. United Kingdom, 2011. Blueprint Pictures. Screenplay by Ol Parker, based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach. Cinematography by Ben Davis. Produced by Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Alan MacDonald. Costume Design by Louise Stjernsward. Film Editing by Chris Gill. Golden Globe Awards 2011.
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, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton having differing attitudes on their new location that affect their marriage, Tom Wilkinson going in search of the man he loved decades earlier, ornery retired housemaid Maggie Smith there for discount hip surgery, and Celia Imrie 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.