“In India there is a saying: ‘Everything will be all right in the end. So if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.’”
So pronounces Sonny, the youthful, idealistic manager of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Elderly and Beautiful People” to his new guests, an elderly group of British tourists visiting the country in search of adventure, change, love, answers and meaning in the “twilight” years.
Unfortunately for the visitors, everything in the hotel is far from all right, mirroring the lives of those who came looking for something more.
Judi Dench leads an all-star cast including Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson, with Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel as the exuberant Sonny.
There are few surprises in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, aside from the fact that the movie on the screen is not the one excerpted in trailers. Previews of the film imply a laugh a minute. The problem? Every one of the movie’s chuckles (just chuckles, no belly laughs) is preview material—seen on screen in every commercial promoting the movie.
What’s left is a picutre that’s supposed to be uplifting but starts out rather sad and ends up only slightly less so, despite the fact that everything turns out “all right in the end.”
I’m not exactly sure what’s missing, given that the stars offer their usually stellar performances and the glimpse into India’s colorful culture excites. Perhaps it’s that not a single character, save the young Sonny and his girlfriend, has a fulfilling emotional relationship. Perhaps it’s the assumption that growing older is an automatic sentence to a lonely, unsatisfying, financially insecure life.
Whatever it is, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel left both me and my mother (closer in age to the movie’s demographic), feeling a bit blue. We wanted to love it, but didn’t, especially my mother, who actually reported feeling depressed.
The movie’s message that it’s never too late for an adventure or to find meaning in life is a valid one. I just hope that when I get to that point, it comes with a little more laughter, some joy and less regret about where I’ve already been.
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