Somewhere buried within the geeks wearing Iron Man, Batman, and Spider-man costumes lies the over-sixty moviegoer, wondering what summer can offer them?
Enter super…British acting royalty.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is not only that antidote to loudness, but it’s so plain and nice that it’s hard not to be swayed by it.
At the center of this tale of elderly people who go to India for their retirement are some of Britain’s better-known thespians. Judi Dench plays Evelyn, a recent widow who’s cash-strapped; Maggie Smith is Muriel, a bigoted snob whose having her hip replacement outsourced to India; Tom Wilkinson is Graham, a former lawyer coming to India to reconnect with the gay lover he lost years ago; and Bill Nighy is Douglas, a mild-mannered former civil servant with a constantly irritated wife (Penelope Wilton) who lost most of his money to a failed business venture.
What they find is that the hotel is nothing like the brochure, run by a smooth-talking dreamer (Dev Patel) desperately trying to prove to his mom that his choice of the woman he loves and the choice of not selling the business are both right.
What follows is all about reconciling with ones past, dealing with adaptation, change, and overcoming feelings of loneliness and replacement. That it always feels like this will all turn out O.K. in the end makes it harmless, but not necessarily dull.
The accomplished cast goes about their roles with dignity, heartache, and good humor. And Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) is a scene-stealer with the best lines (“everything will be ok in the end, but if it’s not O.K. now, then at least it’s not the end”). But they all make it worth checking in for a stay.