THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL – Review by Susan Granger

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Culture shock lies in store for seven, cash-strapped senior Brits who board a plane from London to Jaipur, ready to embark on the third act of their lives.

There’s recently widowed Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench), retired High-Court judge Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson), lonely Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie), randy Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup), quarrelsome Douglas and Jean Ainslie (Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton), and former housekeeper Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) who, while awaiting a low-cost hip replacement, adamantly refuses to eat anything she doesn’t know how to pronounce.

Their destination in India is the once stately but now dilapidated hotel which is managed as a retirement residence “for the elderly and beautiful” by relentlessly optimistic, if hopelessly inexperienced Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire”). Enthusiastic Sonny’s sincere earnestness tries to compensate for the lack of doors, functional telephones and plumbing as he pursues the ‘forbidden’ love of his life, Sunaina (Indian actress Tena Desai), a call center worker.

Adapted from the 2004 novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach, this bittersweet, fish-out-of-water comedic drama, poignantly scripted by Ol Parker and compassionately directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love,” “The Debt”), is a bit reminiscent of Robert Altman’s interweaving ensembles, along with “Enchanted April” and “Cocoon,” in the way the lives of these expectant travelers are radically changed as they encounter challenges in this foreign culture and accommodate to its customs. On a deeper level, there’s a subtle, heartfelt commentary on ‘outsourcing’ the elderly, along with customer service call centers, in countries where their limited funds will go further.

The accomplished cast of seasoned thespians makes the most out of every witty scene, along with a character unto itself: the distinctively architected hotel, a former chieftain’s palace, located several hundred miles southwest of Udaipur. Cinematographer Ben Davis artfully captures the inherent cacophony and incessant chaos of careening tuk-tuks in the vividly colorful street scenes.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is an adventurous, exotic 8. Anglophiles should check in and check it out.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.