marigoldHe Who Travels In Haste
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Stars: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Diana Hardcastle, Tena Desae, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie
Director: John Madden
Scriptwriter: Ol Parker from the novel “The Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach
Fox Searchlight
Rating: PG 13 for themed material
Running Length: 125 minutes
Sit back and enjoy. This all-star cast will take you on a trip in more ways than one. A trip through cash and a trip into a new life---if you allow it for yourself. Adapted from the novel, The Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel looks very good on an advertising brochure. So it seems to a group of senior citizens in Great Britain who, for various reasons from love to having little money, decide to travel to India and spend their declining years. Living there is less expensive and besides it is warm all the time. Various stories intertwine and the group gets to know each other well.(The film does not show the monsoon season, and one wonders how aches and pains would be then?)  
We begin in Great Britain with the seniors viewing a colorful brochure of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. What a wonderful place to live! The group---Evelyn (Judi Dench), Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton from “Downton Abbey”), Muriel (Maggie Smith from "Downton Abbey"), Graham (Tom Wilkinson), Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie)---meet and end up waiting and waiting and traveling and waiting until they finally arrive in India. Transportation is a hassle because Muriel is in a wheelchair (waiting a less expensive hip surgery.) The owner of the hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire”) is so enthusiastic he could out-do NFL Cheerleaders, plus he has an answer for everything. The word “broken down” comes to mind as the travelers see their surroundings and find that doors to their rooms are luxuries, plumbing works sporadically, no telephones and the food is loaded with goat and spices. Not only that, but Norman becomes a pest as he is chasing every woman in sight, while Madge is chasing every man in sight.
We get to see why these people are in India and what they are running away from or to. There are interesting stories from love to failed marriage to grief to pain to having no one, so why not travel afar? India, beautiful in its people, climate, foliage and history, gradually begins to have an effect on the group and they start to explore. Muriel has a problem as she has racist beliefs and can't quite get over this, and Jean because she can't get herself out of the groove of a bad investment and having no retirement money. Her husband is kind beyond belief.  Besides our group, there is a side group of a lower caste cleaning woman in the hotel, Sonny’s girlfriend whose brother doesn't like Sonny. Sonny’s mother who doesn't like the girlfriend, a friend of Graham’s, Muriel’s doctor, and Norman’s friend, Carol (Diana Hardcastle).
Acting is done very well, especially Judi Dench as she seeks a new job or Tom Wilkinson as he remembers a pleasant life as a child in India. Penelope Wilton comes on strong as the angry wife and Ronald Pickup’s “Norman” is over the top, almost vaudeville. Maggie Smith’s “Muriel” is just right as we eventually hear her story and see her extradite herself from situations, and Bill Nighy’s “Douglas” is right on target as a man who has learned to suppress his emotions until a country releases him. Dev Patel’s “Sonny” is purposely over the top and we don't mind when we learn his story. It is literally do or fade away in his family.
As you enter their hotel rooms for the first time, how would you react?  Because the country is unusual to everyone but Graham, the group starts by depending on each other for help. As their courage increases, so does their venturing into Indian society to the point of asking for a job, traveling, shopping and visiting strangers. We are with them all the way and it is a delightful way director John Madden has with a camera. We are the viewers of their experience and it makes you want to see that Marigold Hotel yourself, flaws and all.
Copyright 2012 Marie Asner