Movie review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

By Keri Welham

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is Love Actually for a more mature generation.

Life-story subplots are knitted together around the crumbling, romantic shell of an old hotel in the Indian city of Jaipur.

The hotel's manager Sonny (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire) has huge enthusiasm but scant business sense and the place is falling apart.

The collection of older guests, drawn to the sub-continent by the opportunity to live in style on the cheap, predictably form close bonds and - at different speeds - start to discover the beauty around them.

This film, based on the 2004 novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, has its fair share of autumn years humour - think Viagra swapped for aspirin, lots of shots of an elderly man studying the Kama Sutra, and Douglas (Bill Nighy) awkwardly asking Evelyn (Judi Dench) for a high five.

The romantic scenes were delivered with a quiet touch - an inquiry about how a woman takes her tea serving as a pick-up line, an arm wrapped around a man's waist indicating an established relationship.

There were moments of rich comedy, helped along by a cast of classics, and lovely scenes where Nighy and Dench teamed up with the sombre, kind and aching Graham, played by Tom Wilkinson.

At times, I felt the gorgeous sets and cinematography possibly out-performed the script.

One particular shot of a man wading into water to scatter ashes was hauntingly beautiful.

Anyone who has spent time in India will immediately recognise the beggars at the taxi window, the call to prayer in the milky morning light, the bright saris and clunky plumbing, and the common spectacle of travellers who obstinately fight the human tide, only to wake one morning and finally surrender to the chaos.

Older movie-goers might also recognise the world around them as the characters encounter the deaths of friends and loved ones, regret, purpose, and a second chance at love.

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Title: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Restriction: PG

Running time: 118 minutes

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

- Hamilton News

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