I just saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with my mother. A matinee so the experience was flavored with that feeling of playing hookie, and it’s a sunny and warm day, so a taste of ‘we should be playing outside’ added to it.
It’s a movie about a group of British seniors who for one reason or another – mostly because it’s affordable – respond to an advertisement for a luxury hotel in India for the elderly and beautiful. Of course when they arrive, all is not what it was advertized to be.
The movie follows them through their adventures in trying to fit in and find a way to enjoy their final years. The culture and tradition of India touches all of them whether or not they want it to.
I knew that the story would be good. The actors were familiar faces from all kinds of other British ensemble movies. What made me enjoy the story so much was the way all the characters were treated with respect. This was a story about all the people in the movie, not just Dame Judy or Bill Nighy. The fun was shared between the arguing couple, the randy singles and the young lovers.
India was used as a character in itself. Not disinfected to appeal to the Western sensibility or overly dramatized as a country of poverty and riches. There was beauty and joy and poverty and dirt – what more could you want.
What was the overriding emotion?
The feeling of hope. That it is never too late to start living the life you want. That before anything happens you must have a dream. The contrast between the traditional treatment of the elderly in some countries and the love and respect that Sonny feels towards his guests. After all, everything will be fine in the end, so if it’s not fine, it must not be the end.
Tear jerk factor
I’m not a big crier in movies and when I do cry, I’m often left with the feeling that I’ve been forced to cry. This movie has it’s moments, and I’m sure there were a few sobs in the theater. I had a little tightening of the throat and dampness behind my eyes, but it was a real reaction.
The bottom line
My mother hasn’t been to a movie since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Something about the movie made her want to see it – and, maybe her latent rebelliousness about going to a movie in the middle of a sunny day. Having seen this one, she wants to go again. We’re on the lookout for our next matinee experience.