Following her husband’s death, Evelyn needs to sell her flat to clear her husband’s debts. Muriel needs an operation but the will have to wait six months unless she travels abroad for the procedure. These two ladies form part of a group that travel to India’s Best Marigold Hotel, where everything is not quite how it was advertised…
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features a fairly predictable chain of events. The opening sequence successfully introduces the main characters succinctly, as well as their reason for travelling. Good performances by the solid cast and sympathetic characters make the film enjoyable.
The problem with John Madden’s film is that the film relies too much on stereotypes and archetypal characters. A few of the main characters appear to adhere to some rigid functions. Furthermore, some of the characters change too much in what is a short space of time, which renders them inauthentic. The turn around of Sonny’s mother, for example, occurs very suddenly, which suggests a failure in plotting.
The depiction of the Indian supporting characters highlight the use of stereotypes. India is portrayed as a country which respects the elderly, which is clearly in keeping with the theme. Nevertheless, the glee with which the Asian characters serve and acquiesce to their English guests leaves a sour taste. Although a spectrum of social classes is depicted in the film, it seems like a sanitised view of the country where the poor are grateful to be acknowledged by the English visitor and the city is brimmed solely with colour and bustle.
Judi Dench offers a good performance as Evelyn. Bill Nighy is cast in a more serious role than he is usually associated with, but the actor does well. Maggie Smith is as strong as ever, while Dev Patel hams it up perfectly as the irrepressible Sonny. Some of the film’s narration is a little bit sanctimonious, but the overall tone is fine.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an entertaining enough film, but would have been better without the disquieting stereotypes.