Naturally, when the elders arrive they discover that all is not as advertised. The opulent Marigold Hotel (photo-shopped in the brochure) is a ramshackle hovel. There's the harried, good-natured young proprietor, Sonny (Patel), scurrying around trying to keep the establishment running; there are no doors on some rooms; and birds are flitting in and out of broken windowpanes.
Not surprisingly, each character is ascribed with certain life issues that are duly dealt with — some with believable complexity, some with simplistic shorthand.
While Madden's cameras venture out into the roiling, neon-bright streets of Jaipur and the surrounding countryside just enough to give us a travelogue flavor of India in all its chaotic glory, the character studies take up most of the film's attention. Stellar performances are delivered by all, but especially notable are Wilkinson's sweetly sorrowful quest; Dench's gently determined turn; Smith's haughty racism that softens into sympathy, and the largely unknown Pickup's randy turn as the over-the-hill Lothario.
Little pillow mints of wisdom abound in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” but perhaps the best is delivered by the chipper proprietor Sonny, who tells his nervous guests, “In India, we have a saying — everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, it is not yet the end.”
— Dennis King
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Starring: Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton. (Sexual content and language)
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