Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" with Judi Dench (2011)

This unusually captivating movie follows the adventures of 7 English people, all elderly, who go to India; and the dilapidated Marigold Hotel, located in Jaipur, India; some to discover themselves, and others to recapture the past. Their lives become one story, concerning aging, and the changes one must accept in everything, from thinking to doing. To that end, this story has an interesting perspective on the question of whether all things really do turn out all right in the end.

Tom Wilkinson plays a retired judge with a secret. He is gay, laboring all these decades under a burden of guilt stemming from a relationship he had with an Indian man when younger. He feels that he has ruined the other man’s life, and he has kept the whole event bottled up. When he dies in India, after meeting with the man and his family, he realizes the irony of his whole life, yet dies contented when he sees that the other man has not forgotten him, and has not suffered from the affair. He has even told his wife about his feelings, underscoring what the judge has missed out on his entire life; an honest relationship. His former lover scatters his ashes with his family, and the judge’s fellow travelers, in full attendance.

There is also the widowed woman, played by Julie Dench, who goes to India for financial purposes. When her husband passes away she is forced to leave England in order to live more cheaply. By obtaining a job in a call center, she is able to help others understand that the person on the other end of the phone is a real human being, not just a script to follow in order to close the deal.

The married couple; Douglas and Jean, played by Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton; are both locked in a marriage clearly on the verge of collapse, and must come to terms with the end of their relationship. This part of the film is one that hits home for a lot of people. They are mismatched; he wants to live and explore life, while she is bitter and unhappy with the 40 years they have behind them. When she goes home without him, he is free to finally admit that the relationship never worked, and so he moves on; surprisingly with the widowed Judy Dench; with whom he has formed a close bond.
There is also the elderly woman who is a bigot, Muriel, played by Maggie Smith, who leaves for India in order to have a hip replaced cheaply. It is there that she discovers people are really all the same, regardless of class or color. When the chips are really down, she is the one who pulls it all together, having learned so much from what she has experienced.

One other woman, whose name I did not catch, plays a character who is closed off to almost everything, except finding a man to grow old with. Money is definitely an object with her. The question is will she change, learn to compromise, or continue to be whom she has always been?
The seventh person is a man, Norman Cousins, played by Ronald pickup, who is desperately trying to recapture his past romantic adventures. But, boorish as he may be, a chance encounter with a wealthy widow leads to a true romance, with the two meeting in the middle, blending their lives into one.

And, leading this whole story is the hotel’s owner, Sonny Kapoor, played by Dev Patel, the irrepressible son of a man who shares the vision of his deceased father to create a hotel in which older people can come to live out their last days; and dreams. His 2 brothers, and judgmental mother, almost scuttle the dream; but dreams die hard, and as he struggles against tradition in order to attain his vision; he has to come to terms with the judgments of others as he seeks his own center with the woman he loves, Sunaina, played with great charm by Tena Desae. But in his own words, “Everything will be all right in the end...and, if it's not all right, then it's not the end.” This film has a lot to say about living, and dying, as well as all of the things which we go through in between, and how they ultimately define who we are as individuals.

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