THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
While some people – including this unintentionally racist older couple I sat near at an Indian restaurant – think that “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is about India, it’s not. It’s a movie about British senior citizens visiting India. The story is about white people in awe of India, not about the issues and struggles of the Indian people. Indeed, the biggest Indian role in the film is also played by a Brit, Dev Patel.
That’s not to say that “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a bad film, or even an insensitive film. Instead, it’s a movie for white senior citizens of any country, and India is simply the setting.
The story follows a group of retirees from the UK who take a vacation in India and end up in a ramshackle hotel that has fallen in disrepair. Each of the senior citizens learn something about themselves during their stay, and they grow up by the end.
I like to refer to movies like this – and the more recently released “Hope Springs” – as a coming-of-old-age film. Like the standard coming-of-age drama about teenagers becoming adults, films like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is about middle-aged folks who come into their old age, gracefully or not. It’s a story of acceptance rather than one of redemption, as this is the transition that many face at this age.
The thing that holds this movie together is the brilliant performances by some of the finest actors of this generation. Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith nail their roles and can bring a level of sympathy that transcends their age range. It’s a perfectly charming movie, though not always relatable to anyone who isn’t carrying an AARP card.
Still, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a button-pusher and works for what it is. It’s the kind of movie you can watch with your parents and only feel a little bit uncomfortable, but for totally different reasons than what you’re used to.
The Blu-ray of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” doesn’t have any of the expected commentaries and deleted scenes. However, it does come with a slate of bonus featurettes, including “Behind the Story: Lights, Colors and Smiles,” “Welcome to the ‘Real’ Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Casting Legends,” “Trekking to India: ‘Life Is Never the Same” and “Tuk Tuk Travels.”