Outsourcing is something that we’ve come to expect in many aspects of our lives. Pick up the phone at night with a telemarketer on the line and ask yourself where that person is calling from. Is it from the United States? Probably not. So the idea of taking something like retirement and outsourcing it to a cheaper country like India is something that’s completely plausible and probably already being done. And why not do it.
Directed by John Madden, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tells the classic story of a bunch of people being dropped abroad in a foreign country. Basically, a fish out of water tale.
Judi Dench stars as Evelyn, a recent widow who learns that she has a tremendous amount of debt as a result of her husband. In order to avoid moving in with her family she decides to live at a hotel in Jaipur, India that caters to the “elderly and beautiful.”
Along with her is an unhappily married couple (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) who while things seem alright on the surface, the two of them really don’t much care for each other’s company and are only with each other out of loyalty. There’s Muriel (Maggie Smith) who is coming to Jaipur for a cheap hip replacement. Muriel is a bit of a racist and doesn’t much like the local people. A former judge (Tom Wilkinson) with a personal connection in the past with the city comes as well, and two singles (Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup) also join.
Once they arrive they encounter the hotel’s upbeat owner, Sonny (Dev Patel). Sonny may have embellished a bit in terms of the brochures and as he explains it, “everything is alright in the end. And if it is not alright, then it is not the end.” Sonny tries his best to keep the business afloat and all the while has a romance with a call center girl, (Tena Desae) against the wishes of his mother.
The film has a tremendous amount of heart. Wilkinson’s character has a deep back-story that goes all the way to his childhood. Wilkinson and Nighy are the standout performances in this film. Nighy really steps up and puts in a spectacular performance as he plays a man who clearly yearns for something more than what his wife is offering him, but his deep sense of loyalty is more important to him than his own happiness.
The entire cast does a great job and Madden did a great job casting some top-notch British talent here for the film. Patel does a great job as a very likeable business owner who has a huge dream of success, if no real path towards it.
With all of the action films out there this is a good alternative for those looking for a good dramatic film with some light hearted moments. A great cast and great performances make this movie a must see.
FINAL GRADE: B +
Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres