The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Directed by John Madden
With an excellent cast and great dialogue, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not the kind of movie I would expect to electrify audiences, but is nonetheless very easy to find yourself enjoying immensely, despite the over-long running time.
Is this movie formulaic? Absolutely, but that doesn't matter. This is a film that takes very few risks, but miraculously manages to stay fresh and entertaining. I blame this largely on the wonderful cast of talented veterans, which include Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy, all of whom play off each other brilliantly. Could you ever ask for a better ensemble?
If I were to make one complaint, it would be the fact that there are simply too many stories in this movie being told simultaneously. When balancing so many stories, it becomes difficult to become emotionally invested for long periods of time, due to the gaps of space certain characters may have in-between scenes. Luckily for this film, there isn't an uninteresting plot-line to be found, so despite never maintaining focus on any one character for long, it manages to keep your interest levels high as it shifts from one story to the next, never failing to entertain.
Granted, some of the subplots are less involved and engaging than others, but as a whole, there is very little about this movie that I can complain about in terms of its story, writing, and presentation. Maggie Smith's performance may be the film's biggest standout, but none of the cast is out of place. Every performance (at least from the older cast members) is wonderfully subdued, and it isn't hard to see that the actors must have had a good time working together. The chemistry between these characters, in particular Dench and Nighy, is excellent, leading to many humorous and emotional scenes. As is expected of any film centered around a largely elderly cast, there is bound to be a certain amount of emphasis on the subject of death, which the film handles delicately and respectfully.
This is definitely not what I would consider a great film, but this doesn't stop it from being entertaining, charming, and surprisingly touching. When a movie has you genuinely rooting for a happy ending, no amount of sentimentality, or over-use of formulas can keep you from wishing for the best. And that's the appeal of this movie. Originality may sometimes be crucial, but is by no means a necessity. By the first 20 minutes, you can see exactly where this movie is headed, but that doesn't matter, because it's exactly where you want it to go.