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500 Films In A Year Challenge; Number Six – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a British Comedy-Drama, which was originally released in 2012, and was directed by John Madden (Shakespeare In Love). The screenplay was written by Ol Parker, and has a running time of 124 minutes. The movie has a cast of Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith. This is Number Six in the ‘500 Films A Year Challenge’.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a comedy-drama I noticed very early on when previews began coming out in early 2012. With several different actors included that have had long storied careers, including movies I personally enjoyed, especially with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, recent inclusions in the public sector with roles in the James Bond series and the Harry Potter series. It was because of this that I decided to record the movie off Sky, and sit down to watch the movie, on 5th January.

The cast is a wonderful collection of actors who have been at the top of their game for decades now. We have Judi Dench, whose character is recently widowed and in need of escape from her life, meaning she forms an emotional attachment to India; Tom Wilkinson, whose character retires and returns to India, where he spent his childhood, longing to recreate the nostalgia of his best days; Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilson, who play a married couple whose love has gradually petered out over the years, with Wilson becoming miserable and Nighy’s loyalty to his wife leaving him refusing to leave; Celia Imrie, a Grandmother desperate for a new husband; Maggie Smith, who goes to India for a surgery, despite her incessant dislike for Indians; and Ronald Pickup, an aging lothario. The characters bounce off each other several times, interesting new relationships developing between each of them, as well each actor getting their own individual moments, usually a monologue, where they get a chance to demonstrate their ability. My favorite, was probably Maggie Smith, who during the movie had demonstrated a slight racist attitude, with lines such as “No, if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to eat it”. A racist character is very difficult to make sympathetic, as they need to stay on the line of coming across as just silly and unknowing, as opposed to hateful, and Smith is able to convey her character as being the ridiculous one. This leads to her beautiful monologue, where she opens up about her bitterness, and despite her pre-racist attitude, you empathise with her.

You also have Dev Patel, who has a sub-plot concerning his determination to get his hotel running, as well as dealing with the seriousness of his relationship with his girlfriend, and equating himself positively in his fraught relationship with his mother. Whilst these storylines are a bit more shafted in comparison to the others, Patel makes a solid addition to the cast. My favorite character was probably Tom Wilkinson’s character, whose character arc was simultaneously the most heart warming, and probably the one most deserving of its own film. It takes a story that could come across as manipulative or ridiculous, and Wilkinson legitimizes the story Overall, the movie was harmless fun that had a mixture of comedy, happy endings, heartwarming declarations of love, and great actors. Some people may struggle with it, as the movie is manipulating you throughout, but here, I didn’t mind.

Thumbs Up, and a 6/10.

Next, we roll back to 1964, as Michael Apted begins his journey in the lives of several schoolchildren.


About The Author

Post-Graduate from Falmouth University, having taken "English with Creative Writing". 22 years old, based in Plymouth.

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