The population is aging. The baby boomers are orbiting the age of retirement and becoming the largest, and consequently most influential, demographic. Thus it's curious there aren't more films targeted to their group. Maybe The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
will be the start of a trend.
Everyone has heard the saying, "Getting old is expensive." For these retirees, the truth of that adage has limited their selection of living arrangements - none of which are very desirable. However, an adventurous opportunity to retire in India is too good of a chance to pass up. It turns out it's also a little too good to be entirely true. Nonetheless, the new residents of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful take advantage of their unfamiliar surroundings while their enthusiastic host (Dev Patel) attempts to ensure all their needs are met.
The first act of the film that anticipates the characters' move to India is rushed and in some ways incomplete. It's unknown how most of them came across the offer to relocate, though it does hint at why they might want to go. One couple detests their lower standard of retired living, while others refuse to live with their children. In any case, they all congregate at the airport and become more intimately acquainted upon landing in India. It is here that the story begins to take shape.
Once in India, the culture shock is accentuated. For Tom Wilkinson's character it was a return, so he adapts quickly and begins to navigate the rest of the group through the congested streets to their new home. Some of the residents embrace their new surroundings, including Dame Judi Dench's and Bill Nighy's characters. They explore nearby neighbourhoods, markets and sights, learning the customs and adjusting to their new lifestyles. Meanwhile, others refuse to leave the hotel and cling to the comforts of England that they brought with them, remaining miserable and tainting those around them.
While not requiring too much acting on the part of the retirees, they are still comprised of actors that are a joy to watch on the screen. In addition, Patel is an excessively positive ball of energy. His character has big ideas, including "outsourcing old age" by bringing the world's seniors to India, but has trouble staying on track for the execution.
The second act of the picture is interesting as you get to know the characters in their fresh surroundings. But the latter part becomes less captivating as the latest ex-pats adjust and the film begins to focus on the mundane. Moreover, Dench's intermittent diary commentary does not contribute much to the narrative, particularly after the first two entries.
Not the blockbuster or CGI extravaganza that's become typical, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
will definitely appeal to a different demographic.
Director: John Madden
Starring: Judi Dench
, Bill Nighy
and Maggie Smith