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Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2012)
Friday, May 4, 2012
Some sexual content including references, and language
Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Russell Balogh, Liza Tarbuck, Lillete Dubey
Ol Parker, Deborah Moggach
The film follows a group of British retirees who decide to "outsource" their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2012) | Review
Perhaps The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel should have been rated NC-50, not because of anything offensive, but because it may require a certain age to truly appreciate the various stories played out by the wonderful ensemble cast. (For the record, it is rated PG-13.)
Seven British retirees from a wide range of backgrounds all find their ways to Jaipur, India. They have all opted to "outsource" their retirement to the much less expensive India. The hotel has marketed itself as a perfect retirement facility. However, the brochure is just a touch exaggerated (read as outlandishly false). The phones don't work. Some rooms have no doors. It is run by Sonny, the failure son of his family. He has a dream for the hotel, but is totally incompetent to find a way to fulfill his dreams, either in business or his personal life. Each of the people at the hotel has come for different reasons: financial, looking to find a lost love, looking for new love, seeking independence, a cheap hip replacement. They find themselves in a new environment and a culture they have a hard time understanding. For some it is an adventure. Others find it all too intimidating. As their stories play out and intertwine it gives a sense of what it means to reach the point in life when people may sense that society is ready to discard them. Some may even feel that there is little to look forward to.
You have to think that the target demographic for this film is the Boomer generation. Facing retirement can be both invigorating and daunting. Days may seem empty. Does that mean our lives are empty? Are older people generally seen as disposable? What of the dreams we had when we were young—can we follow those now or are they beyond us? And what of those who must face those years alone?
From time to time, the film plays off differences of cultures (British/Indian, upper/working class, old/new India) and ages (the hotel owner is young, vigorous, and in love; one of the retirees gets a job teaching at a call center about how to talk to older people). While those differences are real, they also serve to put the trials of life into perspective. It is because of the upheaval of leaving the familiarity of the past to venture to a new world that people have the chance to grow in who they are and how they see their life unfolding.
Occasionally the film gets a bit philosophical, but then as we get older and have the time to look back on the lives we have lived, it make sense that we might see meanings that aren't obvious for those for whom mortality is more theoretical. At one point, one character has asked another what they see in this culture that appeals to them. Part of the answer is that "people see life as a privilege, not a right." That may well be a bit of wisdom that is only appreciated when looking back at more life than we see ahead of us. Perhaps the target demo is Boomers, but for those who seek wisdom earlier in life, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel might be worth checking into.
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