The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
An inspiring film of enormous meaning.
As most of you know, I was hit by a motorcycle last October and nearly died. Hospitalized for over three weeks, I subsequently turned 65 shortly after returning home. Mother of God, was my day in the sun over?
And let me tell you without qualification that the extraordinary The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an enchanting movie that ironically reflects why I refuse to give in and call it quits. This is a magnificent film about ordinary people in their 60’s and 70’s who are trying to find meaning in life. Strangers to each other who are wrestling with life’s difficult vulgarities, they are all trying to determine if there still is anything left in their short years left on this planet.
The cast is filled with actors of enormous range. Judi Dench is again overwhelming as a woman whose husband had just suddenly died of a heart attack, leaving her trying to redefine her life. Tom Wilkenson is a lawyer facing both retirement and a terrible heart condition who has a secret from youth that he needs to answer. The charming and warm Bill Nighy is a caring husband of a wife who has become bitter and aloof, and he refuses to be anything other than decent. Finally, Maggie Smith is superb as a single woman overcome by her own immense social prejudices.
These and other Englishmen, strangers to each other, meet at an airport as they all take a chance and respond to an ad about a hotel in India that caters to older tourists. As they interact with some difficulty, their lives are turned completely upside down as they arrive at a hotel that is even older and in more disarray than themselves.
The hotel, being run by with youthful exuberance by a young Dev Patel who we last saw in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (2008), is in many ways a reflection of their own lives. Sure it is old and somewhat rundown, but there was a time when it was exceedingly beautiful. And at that, it only needs some love and attention to restore it to its deserved place of honor and dignity.
It would be unfair of me to tell any of you what happens to any of our fine actors. Let me just say that while Ms. Dench tries to discover a life that she has largely ignored while devoting herself to her deceased husband, Mr. Wilkinson will rip your heart out as a largely closeted gay man trying to reconnect with a former Indian lover whose family destroyed their relationship out of disgust when he was last in India 40 years earlier.
In reality, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a philosophical treatise on our journey through life. As we all age, it becomes more difficult to face disappointment and uncertainty with the exuberance that we felt in our youth.
As our delightful crew wrestle with old age, illness, death, failed marriages and shattered dreams, they all learn a fundamental truth about life. It was always about adventure, and age is no excuse to abandon that quest. Travel, have fun and stay involved.
Life has given us all at times a disgusting shit list, but there are those wrestling with their response that truly need our help and assistance. This is a rare film that will do more than entertain you, as it will touch your soul in areas we all tend to ignore.
Hell, I consider myself not just fortunate, but a better person after being hit by that motorcycle. I may not always succeed, but I’m not going to quit. Anyone ready for an adventure?