Title: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Country: UK, USA
Language: English, Hindu
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: John Madden
Music: Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Oscar-nominated director John Madden’s post-SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998) path might insinuate that he hasn’t secured an esteemed status as a distinctive auteur, and the hindsight is that it should be a great relief he didn’t win that year (Gwyneth Paltrow has’t quite rehabilitated herself from the curse yet).
This time round, Madden assembles a cluster of British senior thespians (seven is the exact number), lead by Madden’s longtime collaborator Dame Judi Dench and the venerable Dame Maggie Smith, to explore their retired lives in India, staying at the titular hotel which is more of a home for the elderly, run by a vigorous local young man (a fast-speaking and slightly annoying Dev Patel). Every and each one experiences some kind of upheaval in their life here, in a foreign land, where is vividly colorful and disparate from the Great Britain, the culture shock could never be properly anticipated (although India was once its colony).
The script intends to encompass all the realistic situations one will inevitably face when reaching their ages (an unhappily married couple, a recent widow, a gay man, a middle-aged gold digger, an elder sex-pursuer, a childless spinster) but is executed in a not-so-splendid curve, the part of Tom Wilkinson’s root-seeking is the most endearing and affecting one and the scene of a crane hovering around before an inadvertent turn of the plot has its symbolic weight on its viewers, but otherwise, there are barely any acumen within the screenplay (Dev Patel’s juggling between his girl and mother is the most corny one, and performance-wise, they’re not on a par with the rest of the cast).
But since there are not too many films in the market specifically aiming at the elderly-skewed demography and the all-star dream team does shoot in their usual range (I give Wilkinson and Nighy comfy niches in my top 10 supporting actor list, while two Dames are very near my 10 ranking, Dench for leading actress and Smith for supporting actress respectively, and I count films according to their calendar year, so what I mean is 2011 list exactly, but it is way too soon to rule out their chances in the Oscar competition next year as both in the supreme hierarchy where the academy members dare not to bypass.