Thursday, May 3, 2012
Review of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2012)
- Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.
- Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel
- Written by Ol Parker (based on the novel by Deborah Moggach)
- Directed by John Madden
- Running time: 2hrs 3min
This movie is about a group of elderly individuals (who don't know each other) that are sick of retired life in England, so they decide to travel to India and stay in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Before they head on their trip we are introduced to them individually. There's Evelyn (Dench) who recently lost her husband, Graham (Wilkinson) who just retired from his job and has some secrets of his own, Doug and Jean (Billy Nighy and Penelope Wilton) are a couple who hide their unhappiness, Norman (Ronald Pickup) is a ladies man, and Muriel (Maggie Smith) is a grumpy racist snob. And once they get to the hotel, they discover that it's not what the advertisements led to believe. It's an unfinished dump run by a young and naive local named Sonny (Patel), who dreams of running a beautiful hotel but doesn't have the funds or support to make it happen. He also fights with his mother about the love of his life, whom he is forbidden to see.
In order for a story this cliched to work is to cast veteran actors. Judi Dench is just radiant as Evelyn, who is pretty much the film's anchor. I can't believe how beautiful she is at her age. She just has this great aura about her. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast doesn't live up to the high standards that she sets. Maggie Smith is mildly amusing, but she is a little too one-note. And then once she changes her ways and becomes nice, it seems to come out of nowhere. Doug and Jean are a very unlikable bickering couple that aren't handled well. Wilkinson is fine as Graham but his character is poorly written.
In fact, that's the main problem here. Every character is just a walking cliche that it was hard to take seriously. You mostly know what's going to happen from minute-one. I guess John Madden does what he can as his direction is smooth, but the script felt like a made-for-television melodrama with all of it's subplots. Way too many! The movie is far too long clocking in at over 2 hours. That was more than enough time to spend with these cardboard cut-out characters.
I'm sure many undemanding viewers over the age of 60 will enjoy themselves, just cause it was made for them. But I would like a movie with well written and real characters please. Thanks!
*1/2 (out of ****)