2011 Running time: 119 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Defying old age and other annoyances, seven retirees – including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy - leave Britain behind for a new retirement resort in India. Unfortunately, they find that the place is more dilapidated than they are. But while young manager Dev Patel strives to get his house in order, his guests have every opportunity to explore their own reasons for being there. With an infectious sense of optimism, romance and adventure, this adaptation of Deborah Moggach's novel ‘These Foolish Things' is custom-made to bring a crinkle to your eye.

Director

  • John Madden

Cast

  • Maggie Smith

  • Bill Nighy

  • Judi Dench

  • Tom Wilkinson

  • Dev Patel

Review

Whisking a bunch of middle-class fogeys from the English suburbs to the sub-continent, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel comes with all the wit, colour and mild condescension you'd expect from any self-respecting culture-clash caper.

It's directed by John Madden who, having steered Judi Dench to an Oscar nomination in Mrs Brown and an outright win for Shakespeare In Love, here packs the great dame off with several of her most exalted peers for a jolly old time in Jaipur.

She plays Evelyn, a cash-strapped widow who signs up on "the interweb" for a place at a newly renovated yet surprisingly cheap retreat 'For the Elderly and Beautiful' in throngingest India.

But as she discovers with her fellow arrivals - narrow-minded invalid Maggie Smith, roving rogue Ronald Pickup, divorced maneater Celia Imrie, retired judge Tom Wilkinson, disapproving snob Penelope Wilton and her long-suffering husband Bill Nighy - the place is not exactly as advertised.

However, with ambitious young hotelier Sonny (Patel) so eager to please, each guest stays to seek out what he or she came for - be it an old lover, a new partner, a new beginning, or a new hip.

Of course, to achieve fulfilment they must first conquer the east-west divide. Except Sonny, whose professional and romantic dreams are continually dashed on the rock of tradition - i.e. his mum.

Unashamedly aimed at the Shirley Valentine / Calendar Girls crowd, developments are as predictable as a post-vindaloo trip to the toilet.

Yet while gently patronising in its stereotypes - cricket, curry and call centres all feature large while smiling locals put us all to shame with their modesty and humility- it's agreeably inoffensive stuff (even Smith at her most cantankerous is powerless to prevent her transformation from unloved bigot to benevolent mother hen).

But with a cast that reads like a BAFTA roll call, the sentiment is never overwhelming. And thanks to Madden's refusal to turn the film into a flossy, glossy Saga saga, nor are the Indian locations. Eat, Pray, Put Kettle On Love this is not.

In terms of spirit and atmosphere, Marigold is as natural as its more experienced performers' talents.

As their youthful foil Patel is well placed to comment, there's life in the old slumdogs yet.

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