Over the weekend I saw two new films. One won five Oscars two weeks ago, has an Oscar-winning director, children as the central cast and was adapted from a book. The other has won no awards thus far, has an Oscar-nominated director, elderly actors as the central cast and was adapted from a book. One is set in Paris, one is set in Jaipur. Some contrasts, you’ll agree. The former film of which I speak was if you haven’t already guessed it, Hugo. The latter movie I described was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. One other difference… Hugo I turned off after one painful hour and Marigold Hotel I didn’t want to check out of.
At the risk of being pelted with rotten fruit for my opinion, I firmly believe had my cat sat in front of my television and cleaned himself extremely thoroughly for the exact duration I managed to allow Hugo to take my time up for, he would’ve been much more entertaining. The problem I found with Hugo was that it was the film equivalent of a pair of Skull Candy headphones. Complete style-over-substance and a frightful shame the gold saturation of the film’s effect sadly didn’t transpire its magic to the plot or any kind of action. Suffice to say I couldn’t get on at all with Hugo; I found it dull, confusing and slow and I shan’t be in a rush to try and salvage any kind of relationship with it…. Unlike the wonderful festival of colour and comedy that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was.
I feel it’s been a while since we had a proper, decent British comedy with a stellar ensemble cast. 2009’s The Boat that Rocked was probably the last one. Adapted from the book by Deborah Moggach, seven retirees’ worlds collide when they leave the UK and share the same hotel together in Jaipur, India. Each out there for his or her different reason, after several weeks they bond deeply and learn about each other’s lives and why they have sought the enlightenment staying at the Marigold Hotel promises. However the enlightenment comes not only from their extended stay at the hotel but from India itself as they absorb the colours and spirituality, the difficult adaptation to Indian culture, and what they learn from each other’s friendships over time. Delightful performances come from newly-widowed Evelyn (Judi Dench); seeking-his-ex-partner Graham (Tom Wilkinson); Muriel (Maggie Smith), whom is in India begrudgingly but not at the very least broadens her mind to overcoming prejudice whilst she undergoes hip-replacement surgery; couple-in-strife Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton); and brilliant comedy comes courtesy of Madge, Norman and the hotel’s young and bubbly manager Sonny (Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel respectively). You could be forgiven for thinking this is what would happen if the friends from Four Weddings & a Funeral were to holiday together after retirement, for anyone who enjoyed movies such as Notting Hill, Calendar Girls or Shakespeare in Love will find great joy, enchantment and hospitality to be had at the Marigold Hotel.
To echo Sonny’s sentiment, everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, then it is not the end.