Natalie Stendall film review: Marigold Hotel matures with age

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Film: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 124 minutes

Seven retired people travel to India to live at the new Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the elderly and the beautiful. On arrival, they discover it’s not a stunning location as advertised but is unready for guests and in serious need of repair.

The main plot of Best Exotic sees unprepared owner Sonny (Dev Patel) fight to save his hotel, struggling to convince investors to inject more cash into his unlikely scheme whilst persuading his mother to let him marry the ‘modern’ Indian girl he loves.

This, somewhat simplistic plot, is not all there is to Best Exotic though, and, instead, it is perhaps best characterised as a collection of smaller subplots concerning the hotel’s seven new residents.

Of course, it’s an eclectic bunch: feuding couple Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton), Evelyn (Judie Dench), widow to a husband secretly in debt, antiquated racist Muriel (Maggie Smith) travelling to India for a hip replacement, homosexual Graham (Tom Wilkinson), who has something in his past that he needs to atone for, lady’s man Norman (Ronald Pickup), and Madge, who’s in search of her next partner (Celia Imrie).

All of these characters appear to be on a journey of discovery in India and, although this genre is getting a little tired, Best Exotic has a top-class cast who skillfully keep their character’s stories from feeling twee. Nevertheless, there are a few limitations in the script and elements of the plot that are initially unconvincing.

Personally, I found it hard to believe, early on, that Muriel, who had such a negative view of other cultures, would travel to India for a hip replacement in the first place.

Despite this, the most interesting plots do belong to Maggie smith as Muriel and Tom Wilkinson as Graham.

Both do a stellar job injecting light humour with more serious messages. And, as Sonny, Dev Patel gives us a charming lead character who capably holds the film’s various plot strands together.Although it has a great deal for everyone to enjoy, it seems that real delight in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel matures nicely with the age.