The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Reviewed by Marc Glassman

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

John Madden, director

Ol Parker, script based on These Foolish Things by Deborah Maggoch

Starring: Judi Dench (Evelyn), Tom Wilkinson (Graham), Maggie Smith (Muriel), Dev Patel (Sonny), Bill Nighy (Douglas), Penelope Wilton (Jean), Ronald Pickup (Norman), Celia Imrie (Madge)

The buzz

This British comedy of manners did surprisingly well in its homeland. Audiences responded to the all-star cast of great character actors and the premise of retiring to India, for so long a major part of the British Empire.


The genres
Travel; cross-cultural clash; dramatic comedy about getting older


The premise
A group of retirees leave Britain for India, where they hope to spend their final years in a better climate with their money will going much further than home. But the hotel, run by the ineffectual but ever-optimistic Sonny, is in disastrous shape. While Sonny tries to renovate the hotel and assemble more funds, the lives of his elderly guests will unfold.

Evelyn (Judi Dench) is recovering from the death of her husband, an old-fashioned man who controlled nearly everything practical in their lives—even the finances, which he mismanaged. In India, Evelyn takes a job and begins to learn about mature adult life for the first time.

Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is a retired judge who grew up in India as a lad. It turns out that he’s planned this trip back to India for years—to find his first gay lover.

Muriel (Maggie Smith) is angry and racist in England. But in India, she slowly gets over her prejudices as she waits for a hip replacement operation that will open up her life.

Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) have been married for decades. Confronted with a new reality in India, Douglas excitedly takes to his new land while Jean hates it. Is their marriage fated to crack up?

Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie) are looking for love—or at least sex—in India. Will they find it?  Or themselves?

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