|year: 2012 cast: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith rating: **1/2|
Despite timeworn age, there’s beauty within everything. This doesn’t only refer to the veteran cast of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, but the building itself – that’s the idea, anyway.
A determined young man has a vision: his dilapidated India hotel, misleadingly touched-up in the advertisement, is the ideal place for the elderly. Enter a handful of Brits including a judge, a widow, a married couple, two sexually active optimists and a really old lady in a wheelchair.
You’ll see the result of certain stories right away – mellow Bill Nighy is so mismatched with bickering wife Penelope Wilton, and has such cozy chemistry with widowed Judi Dench (who provides the narration: a daily journal on her online blog) while Maggie Smith, not trusting any race but white, slowly warms up to the Indian culture... a character in itself.
The busy streets of India are balanced with lovely countrysides, yet the natives seem a bit too helpful and cheery, providing little edge for the storyline. But not all the characters are as predictable: Tom Wilkerson, a classy judge searching for his lost love from years past, holds a secret or two. And with the relaxing chemistry of the old-timers, Dev Patel’s Sonny, the young dreaming Hotel owner, and his relationship with a beautiful local is distracting.
Most of the humor relies on two elderly young-at-hearts seeking the perfect sexual encounter (though not with each other) and yet the person who really stands out is Nighy’s narrow-minded wife – while the other actors play variations of themselves and/or old folks created to be liked, Penelope Wilton turns in a memorable performance as the sole antagonist.
There’s little magic involved within the Hotel, yet it's so uncomfortable the residents are forced outdoors where the matchmaking occurs, but what kind of title would BEST EXOTIC PATIO be?
As a feel-good movie this works fine. But like the Hotel itself, the presentation often exceeds the outcome.