The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is yet another movie where white people come in to save the day. It’s getting really hard to actually know whether or not this type of frolic storytelling device is intentional, or whether the writers of these movies (or novels adapted into movies) actually believe people in other countries and of other beliefs (and other colors, let’s be honest) can’t take care of themselves. If so, shame on these writers for being moronic. If they have the best of intentions, which I think they do, than shame on them for not coming up with an original idea.
The story here is one of childish redundancy. I have no qualms with the easy breezy tone of this film. But it’s so obvious to me the blatant way the film disguises stupidity as charm. In a nutshell, a bunch of old retired people decide to spend their last years at a hotel in India. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this film was able to catch such well respected legends (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson) because frankly, what other offers do these people really get?
Judi Dench is a woman who seemingly never worked and never did anything for herself. So naturally, she gets a job and discovers herself in the later years of her life. “It’s never over,” she says. Her story is nice and actually somewhat heartbreaking at times. Bill Nighy’s character is stuck in a loveless marriage and has been for years. His story raises the question, “What happens when a marriage is so obviously over so late in life?” Do we stick with the person out of obligation, or fear?
The most impressive and surprising story was Tom Wilkinson’s. His character reveals about thirty minutes into the film that he’s gay, grew up in India, and wants to return there to reunite with the man he fell in love with so many years ago. Honestly, I would rather watch two hours of this. The film does a great job of capturing these late bloomers, if you will, at their last stages of life. They have waited entirely too long to go for what they want. They have massive regrets. And naturally, the films ends up veering into cliche territory when everything works out in the end.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel pretends to be harmless and airy. But truthfully, the story of this boy who owns the hotel not being able to own the love he has for his girlfriend and stand up to his mother is actually quite insulting. The only way he realizes he can love her and that he’s worth it is if these old white people can validate it for him. How does that make any sense?
The movie is pretty. It’s full of life and wonderful adages, but falls deep into bad writing and corny dialogue that left me cringing. It really is a joy watching this cast in anything they do. Even if what they’re stuck with is complete run of the mill mediocrity.