Do you have a plan for your retirement? A condo, maybe? Las Vegas, Miami, Scottsdale? What about India? It’s probably not your first choice. But then it wasn't the first choice for most of the characters in this film, and they still ended up there. Wanna know why?
Evelyn Greenside (played by Judi Dench) is a housewife who was recently widowed. In addition to her grief, her husband’s death has left her with massive debts. While discussing her husband’s account with a representative of her internet service provider, she causes an abrupt change in tone when she informs the person on the other end of the phone, whose Indian accent is easily noticeable, that her husband is dead. We are later introduced to a High Court judge named Graham Dashwood. Dashwood (played by Tom Wilkinson) is on his way to the most recent in what seems to be an endless series of retirement parties. He’s dreading the event a great deal and, rather than suffer through the festivities, he simply says, “This is the day” as a way of announcing his own retirement and then leaves the party without another word. Next, we have the Ainslies. Douglas Ainslie (played by Bill Nighy) and his wife Jean (played by Penelope Wilton) are exploring a number of less-than-enticing bungalows where they might spend their golden years. They’d hoped for something grander, but invested a large portion of their savings in their daughter’s internet business and have yet to see that business turn a profit. Muriel Donnelly (played by Maggie Smith) is a cantankerous former housekeeper who needs a hip replacement but finds the wait, cost, and personnel at her local hospital unappealing. All these characters are made aware, in varying ways, of a seemingly beautiful retirement community in India named The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful. However, when they arrive, they soon find out that Sonny, the hotel’s young and enthusiastic manager (played by Dev Patel), has misrepresented the accommodations at the hotel. He neglected to mention the hotel’s shabby appearance, failing plumbing, and non-functioning phone service.
Now I failed to introduce two other characters in the story. They are single by choice and have come to India looking for romance. Without cluing you in to the ending, the film avoids the obvious cliché of the two finding love in each other’s arms while still allowing them to find contentment. For that reason and others, I loved this film. There are twists, surprises, happy endings, not-so-happy endings. All that merely punctuates the brilliant portrayals offered by a cast that already has many on their respective. The inexplicably optimistic character played by former Slumdog Millionaire and now supporting actor on HBO’s The Newsroom, Dev Patel is a constant source of amusement. See this film.