The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Cast: Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel
Director: John Madden
From the director of Shakespeare in Love comes the tale of a group of seven British OAPs who decide to spend their retirement in a hotel in India, having "outsourced" their twilight years.
There's Evelyn, a newly widowed housewife (Judi Dench); Douglas and Jean (Nighy and Wilton) whose lost investment in their daughter's business means they're now broke; Graham (Wilkinson), a retired court judge who grew up in India; ageing lothario Norman (Pickup); Madge, a similarly aged nymphomanic (Imrie) and Muriel (Smith), a bitter lonely racist who has no choice but to head for India to get a hip operation.
Unfortunately for the group, the hotel is a lot less than the brochure promised - it's somewhat ramshackle despite the best attempts of would be manager Sonny (Slumdog's Dev Patel) to try and bring investment into it.
But gradually in their own ways, the group begins to adjust to life there - or in two cases, not so much - and find that even in their later years, there's still much on offer from the world around them.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those films the word "nice" was invented for; it's a crowd pleasing, snuggly jumper of a film which, while a little overlong, exudes a warm fuzziness and glow which extends beyond you leaving the cinema.
In a very well put together opening sequence, as we're introduced to the characters, we're given all of their backstory and all we need to know about them right away. It's a nice touch and a cleverly deft piece of direction which Madden handles well.
There's plenty of humour on display too - Dame Maggie Smith's racist and elderly Muriel says of the time they have left on earth being so short "that she doesn't even buy green bananas." It's this kind of humour which permeates the stereotypes of the British abroad story and while occasionally it's predictable, it will be lapped up - no doubt as a level of recognition shines through.
Each of the main cast gets their moment to shine; Dench and Nighy stand out in this ensemble and Wilkinson adds a poignancy to his high court judge. Perhaps the only exception is Patel's Sonny who feels a little sidelined towards the end of the film. India gets a little time to shine as the backdrop but it's never front and central to the action, giving you a taster of life in this love and relationships drama.
Overall, you can see exactly what's coming in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; the racist whose eyes will be opened; the widower who will step out from her dead husband's shadow; the bickering couple who will discover where their future happiness lies and an Indian who's threatened by an arranged marriage - it's all perfectly obvious what will transpire. And while there will be some who'll roll their eyes as this plays out on the screen, there will be many - including a larger elderly contingent of the audience who will recognise a lot of the universal frustrations - who'll lap up this middle of the road pleasantly watchable dramedy.