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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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As a British and independent film enthusiast, I was ecstatic to see this unique film directed by John Madden, starring several of my favorites: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Penelope Wilton. Although I'm more than half a century younger than the target audience, I think it speaks a universal truth about treasuring and appreciating life.

The plot is simple and sets the stage for more emotional developments. Seven British senior citizens experience financial difficulties that make them seek a cheaper retirement in India, where they become the first guests in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel “for the elderly and beautiful.” The rest of the film depicts how the foreign environment initially overwhelms them, and how each adapts to a new lifestyle.

This film is by no means original. Its theme is embodied in an adage repeated several times in the movie: “Everything will be all right in the end; if it's not all right, it's not the end.” Through no fault of the actors, however, this film lacks the character development necessary to support deep themes about life. By the end, we're supposed to feel a strong empathy for each, but frankly, we're not given enough basis on which to do so.

Jean (Penelope Wilton) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are a couple whose relationship becomes strained after 40 years of marriage, yet it's never clear why they drifted apart. It's hinted frequently that Evelyn (Judi Dench), a widowed housewife, had felt oppressed by her husband, but these experiences are not used to enhance her character. Part of the insufficient character development may be because this film is based on a novel, These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, which is no doubt far more detailed.

Nevertheless, the veteran cast made it more than worthwhile. Maggie Smith, as usual, is exact in every nuance of her character, a retired housekeeper who overcomes her cynicism and xenophobia. Smith accentuates both the humor and sadness of her character. One of my favorite retorts is, “Six months? I'm too old to plan that far ahead. I don't even buy green bananas.” At the same time, her interactions with an “untouchable” servant girl show her empathy. Bill Nighy and Judi Dench are both splendid in their portrayal of characters who discard their old lives and find different, better ones in India.
For a fantastic cast and a relaxing two hours, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a must-see.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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wishingtheskywasbluer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 24, 2012 at 1:44 am:
great review!!!!! i liked this movie too, but i think i was one of the only people in the theater under 60:)
 
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