Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I went to see this movie for the astounding cast, which includes Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Tom Wilkinson. From the reviews I'd read, I expected to enjoy their performances but to find the film itself generally meh. 

Instead, I loved it. 

What most reviewers seem to be missing is that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a fairy tale, a sweet story of a group of lost people coming together in a magical place to save each other and in the process each find her or his own way forward. The fact that those lost people are not disaffected young men and women but instead retirees in no way detracts from the movie's magic or power.

That said, even if the story doesn't work for you, the cast almost certainly will.  All four of these British stars, as well as Dev Patel and almost everyone else in the film, deliver topnotch performances.  I must give a special nod to Judi Dench, whose work is more remarkable each time I watch her.  In this film, her character is a suitably complex swirl of apparent contradictions, weak and strong, shut down and open, almost done with life and brimming with it, not seeking anyone and yet appealing and even sexy. 

Unlike many recent movies, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does not require you to turn off your brain to fully enjoy it. To get the most from it, however, you must open your heart and your mind to the possibility of magic, magic in a faraway land that just happens to exist, magic in the ongoing lives and loves of a group of people who learn how amazing their lives can still become, no matter what their ages. 

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