Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
3.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is continually resuscitated by the basic elements of its conceit. Based on the 2004 novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, it tells of a handful of senior citizens who converge on a 55-and-over retreat in India, and the golden-year stars and golden-hot locale offer grand assistance to screenwriter Ol Parker, whose adaptation otherwise feels like a rather workaday rom-com. The dialogue penned for the characters isn't without heart or interest, but it's much ado about little until spoken by the likes of Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith, who lend the material a sizable touch of class. Clustered together as if headed to a summer camp for West End stage greats, the distinguished company of Dames and Sirs (also on board are Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, and Celia Imrie) provides numerous pockets of earnest interplay, and the surroundings, a bejeweled bit of third-world bustle that visually recalls Fernando Meirelles's shaky-cam stomping grounds, manage to add urgency and natural beauty to a plot flecked with saccharine flourishes.