Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

May 19, 2012

Heartbreak hotel

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:43 am

May 18, 2012

Cast: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel, Lilette Dubey

Director: John Madden

Seven British fogies find love, sex, jobs, and redemption, when they head to India in the predictable yet feel-good comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Directed by Shakespeare In Love‘s John Madden, the film boasts an ensemble of some of the finest English actors who pump heart into what could’ve easily been an entirely calculated affair.

Judi Dench stars as a cash strapped widow looking for a fresh start, Tom Wilkinson as a high-court judge searching for an old lover, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton as a married couple who invested their savings in an Internet startup that bombed, Celia Imrie as a gold-digger looking to be married again, Ronald Pickup as a randy senior searching for love, and Maggie Smith as a racist old biddy who needs a cheap hip-replacement surgery. Lured by an advertisement for a luxurious retirement hotel in Jaipur that turns out to be dump, the ageing Brits are soon strangers in a strange land. How each of them deals with the unexpected reality that confronts them in this unfamiliar place is the focus of this film. A few adapt easily, others resist, while some embrace the madness of India and create a new life for themselves amidst it.

In equal parts enjoyable and cloying, this film ticks off all the usual stereotypes you’d associate with a foreigner’s perspective of India. Yet there’s so much humor – particularly in the first half, and a generous dose provided by Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel who stars as the hotel’s optimistic manager – that you’re willing to look beyond the clich├ęs.

For the first-rate performances alone, this film is worth a watch. I’m going with three out of five for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s formulaic but oddly comforting; it’s the kind of movie your mum will love.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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