Is it possible to like a movie based only on the actors?
The answer, at least for me, is yes. That movie is The Exotic Marigold Hotel.
I went to see it on a cheap Tuesday. The 7pm show. Much to my surprise, the theater was nearly as full as Avengers on opening night. However, I doubt a lot of people who saw The Avengers were there. The crowd was, well, shall we say, older.
The plot is simple. Pensioners decide to retire in an opulent hotel in India, the only problem, it’s not really that opulent. But, as the young owner says, “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.” An apt quote for the entire movie.
Some adapt, some don’t. Pretty simple. Add lots of lovely shots of India., lots of local color, a mother that wants to close the hotel and you have it in a nutshell.
But where the movie really shines is when it focuses on the actors. Judi Dench is fantastic as a women in search of a purpose after her husband dies. Bill Nighy is utterly charming as a man who is out of his element but who seems to embrace it. Tom Wilkinson is heartbreaking as an aging, gay man in search of his first love. Add Maggie Smith who seems to hate anyone who is not, in her words, english, and you have the makings of some delightful on-screen characters.
And let’s not forget Dev Patel. The Slum Dog Millionaire. He holds his own,( in a goofy sort of way), with the best of them. He exudes energy and enthusiasm and a kind of dreamy optimism that is captivating. Without him, we cannot care about a broken down hotel. But to him, it’s more than that, it’s a chance for him to succeed, to prove himself to his successful family.
It’s charming. It’s funny. It’s brilliantly acted.
Sure, it’s not the greatest movie ever made but it’s worth checking out if you still remember when we had to look up information in an encyclopedia.