The story begins with developing the main characters within the first several minutes as a group of British retirees decide to travel to Jaipur, India to take up residence at what they thought through the travel brochures was a newly restored hotel for the elderly and beautiful. Grant it none of the people knew of each other until their flight not did they know what to expect when they arrived in a foreign country.
Evelyn (Judi Dench) just recently lost her husband to a heart attack and not all that sure of the ins and outs of daily life she was informed by her son that it would be best to sell her flat in order to pay off her husband’s debts. When she makes the decision to move to India she also became very well aware that at her age she also needed to find work there. Little did she know that not only would she find work but also the chance at happiness once again. Dench is truly a superb actress and a pleasure to watch on the big screen as she gives true depth and meaning to a woman who has lost her way but eventually finds it in all the wrong but right places.
Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is a very prominent business man in Britain but one day at a meeting he abruptly shouts “this is the day” and it was surely that, he packed his office and decided to go back to India in search of his one true love. A love that was condemned in India many years ago and a love that split a family apart and ended a relationship that should have been forever. Graham returns to the one place on earth that granted him true happiness, a happiness that will last until his dying day. Wilkinson is a man that deserves your attention and really has a way of seducing you into his role.
Douglas (Bill Nighy) and his wife of forty years Jean (Penelope Wilton) have nothing left in their homeland and the last place they want to live out their lives is in a retirement home shouting those infamous words “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”, so they make a conscious decision to leave for India. Whatever money they had for retirement was spent in investing in their daughter’s internet business scheme that did not pan out as expected. But not all is greener on the other side and sometimes the green has turned to brown. I’ve always been a fan of Nighy ever since I witnessed him in “Love Actually” and once again he does not disappoint. As for Wilton she plays her character in such a way that you really love to hate her for her controlling ways and the manipulation she’s held over her husband for so many years. It’s not wrong to be nice but it may be nice to be wrong once in a while especially if you finally realize the fact.
Muriel (Maggie Smith) is in need of hip replacement surgery and can’t afford it in Britain and that along with her racial bias has narrowed her field of opportunities for the surgery at home. Not that India opens up her heart to the Indian culture but at least she can afford to get the surgery there. Along the way of life at the Marigold Hotel she eventually falls prey to her inner demons and finds that life in a foreign environment is not so bad and neither are the people no matter what ethnicity they may belong too. All I can say is that I love her, always have and always will. She in all her wisdom is perfect projecting her prejudice comments that come across to the audience as not offensive but hysterical making you aware that people are out there in the world like her and that it’s not worth feeling sorry for them but rather best to ignore their ignorance, hoping that someday they’ll find their way of change for the better of mankind.
Norman (Ronald Pickup) is the man of the hour. Maybe the hour glass since his race for sex is underrated yet understood even though his approach is quite limp and unpolished. Sometimes aspirin will take care of those personal issues eventually leading you in the right direction. Pickup, it’s all in the name I guess!
Madge (Celia Imrie) is a bit of the wild one out to find a husband and no Norman is definitely not it but she does help point him in the right direction. Imrie reminded me a bit of Blanche in the “Golden Girls” not quite the slutty side but more so the ideal woman of age still on a mission no matter where it takes her. Imrie does a nice job showing that beauty, smarts and sophistication with a touch of seductive can really go a long way in one’s life if only in their own reflection.
Then we have Sonny (Dev Patel) the manager of the hotel that has lured all these people with his dreams of what he hopes one day will be a reality. A hotel that will have many guests, making money, honored by his mother and supportive for the love of his life Sunaina (Tena Desae). Patel once again lights up the screen even though at times he was a bit eccentric it was a joy to share in the energy he eluded from his character and culture.
The direction is extremely well done and the writing is even better but it was fascinating to watch the people and the culture along with the wardrobes full of color and honor for who they are. A country of heat, many colors and very large crowds it is still full of people who appreciate having light in their life everyday they open their eyes, not taking any of it for granted. It was enthralling to watch a group of individuals all very different in themselves except for all being of the older generation not just cope but thrive in a New World making myself feel that you’re never too old. Hey take a look at my friend Betty White, ninety years old and still working like a twenty one year old. Got to love her as the perfect example of you’re never too old. As for Graham he may be gay in theory not practice and I don’t mean happy but at least he finished what he started many years ago which is not what I can say for most. These people adapted and conquered and they did not care that society in Britain tended to forget them especially since while in India they were once again found amongst each other. Are we ever too old for change? Do we hold inside that fear of disappointment? Should we celebrate change and old age? Everything will be alright in the end and if not it’s not the end of the world! I absolutely recommend this film for the baby boomers and older. The younger generation will probably not understand most of it or even care since they for the most part still feel that old age is light years away. It comes quick so you might want to check this film out if not just for the lessons intertwined throughout but for a look into your own future. Written and thoroughly enjoyed with 3 paws out of four by Jon Patch.