The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold HotelI woke up late this morning after a busy night (dog, chocolates, vomiting — long story) and discovered that at some point over the past few hours, nominations were announced for the Academy Awards. Aside from sobbing my way through Les Misérables a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t seen any of the top contenders. In fact, I’m not bothered about the Oscars one way or the other, but I was still a little disappointed that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel didn’t get any nominations.

I can understand why the film itself was shut out. The storyline — about a group of British pensioners who flee their dreary lives in England for a retirement home in India — is so clichéd and contrived, it’s almost an embarrassment to mention it. There are also a few underperforming subplots that should have been cut loose long before the script was finalized, although even that act of mercy wouldn’t have saved the plot from mediocrity.

What surprises me is that such an outstanding cast was snubbed. Please! Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup — it’s the crème de la crème of British actors. Also featured is Dev Patel (of Slumdog Millionaire fame) as the hapless proprietor of the crumbling hotel, a sweet-natured dreamer whose vision of the establishment doesn’t quite match up with its dilapidated reality. In these capable hands, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel comes alive.

The characters include some familiar archetypes. How many of these have you met on your travels?

  • The Seeker, who’s returning to the one place he was truly happy.
  • The Sponge, who’s open to every new experience that comes her way.
  • The Fossil, whose mistrust of everything unfamiliar blinds her to what’s possible.
  • The Butterfly, whose journey leads to a complete (and somewhat unbelievable) transformation.

Expats will recognize many of the sentiments expressed in the film. One character muses:

“This is a new and different world. The challenge is to cope with it. And not just cope, but to thrive.”

There you have it: expatriation in a nutshell.

The same character (whose Yoda-esque pronouncements do get a bit irritating after a while) has the perfect piece of advice for anyone who’s found herself in a strange and confusing land:

“Initially you’re overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it’s like a wave. Resist, and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side.”

I’ll leave you with a final bit of wisdom from Sonny, the young Indian who ties the film together:

“In India we have a saying: everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end.”

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is available on DVD. I suggest you check it out. I don’t care what the Academy says — I loved it.


About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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8 Responses to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

  1. I really enjoyed it as well. I loved the man who came home to find his first love.

  2. Judyj says:

    I enjoyed it too, but felt rather let down by the rather predictable plot and character types. As you say, the cast was sterling and did the best with what they had. Such a shame that such great acting talent wasn’t put to better use.

  3. dena says:

    I LOVED this movie! And the line about the wave knocking you over, how true that is! I may copy that and place it on my bathroom mirror to look at everyday of my “expat journey!”

  4. Veronique says:

    I watched it on the plane from Paris to Shanghai (when we relocated recently from Chicago to Shanghai). Sigh.

  5. Naomi says:

    I loved it as well. Saw it with a bunch of expat friends living in Delhi at the time and will yes, it was contrived and obvious, it was VERY well done, tasteful, and sweet!

  6. I wasn’t sure about this one but, after reading your review, I think I’ll give it a go. Great cast by the looks of things. Cheers!

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