Life and death in India

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Fox Searchlight Rating: PG 124 minutes

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the elderly and beautiful) is a pleasant, feel-good movie about life and aging.

Seven Brits (five singles and an unhappy couple), mostly because of low incomes, answer an ad for a cheap retirement hotel in India that promises much and only partly delivers. The hotel is run by an enthusiastic but poor and disorganized Indian (Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire).

One of the retirees, a former judge, played by Tom Wilkinson, grew up in India and is happy to be back. Some of the others, including a poor widow played by Judi Dench and a retired civil servant who invested his money badly, played by Bill Nighy, enjoy the colourful chaos and vibrant culture of their new country. But others, especially a fearful racist who also needs a hip replacement, played by Maggie Smith, hate it.

As they work out their lives (and one death) with various levels of success, the result is a lot of pleasure for the audience. The story is entertaining and even, on occasion, unpredictable. It’s hard to go wrong with the rarified thespian talents of Dench, Nighy, Smith and Wilkinson, plus a talented supporting cast under the smooth direction of John Madden (Shakespeare in Love).

Sometimes the film is too pat and calculated, but mostly it is an appealing, charming and heart-warming look at seniors engaging life in India. It is also a welcome relief from superhero and video game movies.

Rating: four deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.