Created on Thursday, 17 May 2012 00:00
Written by Samantha See
With a stellar cast of veteran actors, and from the director of Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has fans holding great expectations... but will it pull through?
Each due to their circumstances, a group of British retirees decide to switch their retirement plans to the seemingly cheap and good Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, a laidback part of India. Though new proprietor Sonny (Dev Patel) tries his best to provide for his group of visitors, he has problems of his own—a girlfriend (Tena Desae) that is too modern for his mother's (Lillete Dubey) liking. But while they find the place falling short of their expectations upon arrival, they discover things more precious than material comforts and learns more life lessons despite their years.
Almost like a Love Actually attempt on older albeit established actors, there is too much going on at once that leaves most of the seven characters with half baked and undeveloped. There is the unhappily married Douglas (Bill Nighy) and his naggy wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) have just lose their life savings as well as retirement savings in their daughter's unsuccessful entrepreneurial attempt, Madge (Celia Imrie) who seeks a sugar daddy, elderly Norman (Ronald Pickup) who craves a taste of youth again, xenophobic and even racist Muriel (Maggie Smith), gay barrister (Tom Wilkinson) a closet gay who returns seeking his first love and, of course, Sonny Patel who plays the dorky new hotel owner.
A few noteworthy performances, however, saves the script. Instead of her usual high and mighty queen roles, Dench plays a convincing widow in the depths of poverty. Her chemistry with Nighy strikes a chord with the audience as well. Wilkinson's performance as a barrister with a secret holds much promise but ends up foundering to the safe yet boring side.
Still, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an ill-executed feel-good movie nonetheless worth seeing for the fine cast.