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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

March 5, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
Director: John Madden
Actors: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy

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Synopsis: A group of English pensioners relocate to a supposedly luxury residence in Jaipur, India. Along the way, each of them undergoes some form of personal growth.

Review: It feels churlish to be overly critical of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film’s limited aspiration is as an easy-viewing confection about a group of colourful retirees (populated by some of Britain’s most bankable and venerable actors) relocated to a pleasantly exotic India. If anything, the film is stymied more by its logistics than its actual story or themes, as trying to fit in seven or eight major characters – each with their own little arc and epiphany – proves difficult in a 90-minute mainstream film format.

A project like this would have suited a more expansive and cosy Sunday evening TV remit. Instead, the demands of the conflict-resolution staple dissipate the narrative into stereotypical character developments, and some of the subplots (Dev Patel’s character’s tokenistic arranged marriage quandary, and Maggie Smith’s character’s completely unbelievable about-turn from cockney bigot to enlightened, proactive businesswoman) are extremely corny and unconvincing. There are one or two nice moments – usually provided through a flash of humanity or class from the seasoned cast of actors – but the unmistakable whiff of mediocrity does sully even the gentle, crowd-pleasing pursuits of this film. (March 2012)

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