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Movie Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

July 27, 2012

We’re a little late in the game publishing our reviews of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, seeing as the film first opened in limited release nearly three months ago on May 4th, alongside The Avengers.  But it has become a genuine word of mouth sensation with audiences since then and this is the first week of the summer when our thoughts on this wonderful little film won’t be overshadowed by our reviews of a big blockbuster.  Enjoy!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – A Fox Searchlight Release

Release Date: May 4th, 2012

Rated PG for some language and mature themes

Running time: 124 minutes

John Madden (dir.)

Ol Parker (screenplay)

Based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach

Thomas Newman (music)

Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade

Maggie Smith as Muriel Donnelly

Tom Wilkinson as Graham Dashwood

Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie

Penelope Wilton as Jean Ainslie

Lucy Robinson as Judith

Ronald Pickup as Norman Cousins

Celia Imrie as Madge Hardcastle

Dev Patel as Sonny Kapoor

Tena Desae as Sunaina

©Fox Searchlight Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Evelyn (Judi Dench), Graham (Tom Wilkinson) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Our reviews below:


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

What do you get when you take some of England’s finest actors and put them against the beautifully filmed backdrop of India?  You get The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a wonderful little film from director John Madden that is entertaining and touching in equal measure, making it a genuine independent success that has provided an excellent alternative to the big summer films over the last few months.

Ever since her husband died, Evelyn Greensdale (Judi Dench) has felt lost in her quiet life in England.  Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) is a bitter racist, facing hip replacement surgery.  Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) is still facing regret from his past.  Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) and his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) are trying to avoid having to move into a retirement home.  But their lives and those of several others will all change when they book a trip to stay at the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful” in India run by the cheerfully optimistic Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), forging new bonds with each other late in life.

We find out more about the characters as it goes along, with some surprisingly affecting backstories bringing a lot of heart to the film.  Themes of second chances and embracing life are brought up, but in a way that is deeply resonate and relatable even for those of us who are far younger than the retired main characters.  Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson are particular standouts of the uniformly excellent cast, and all deserve serious awards consideration.  Their performances are just wonderful, filled with depth and honest emotion as they perfectly capture the growth of their characters and provide some surprisingly moving scenes.  Just to watch all of these great actors at play is one of the treats of the movie.

Beautifully capturing the colours and vibrant life of India, and filled with excellent performances from a renowned cast, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wonderful little film that reminds us to embrace life no matter what age we are.  It’s no wonder that audiences have already taken to it in a big way.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a small group of British seniors who each end up meeting at the same hotel in India – a hotel for the elderly, run by Sonny (Dev Patel).  The film follows the individual stories of the couples and individuals, as each learns to reappreciate the smaller things in life in their golden years, and find out new things about themselves too.  Along with the rest of the cast, the always upbeat Sonny is a very likable character, who no matter what tries to find the optimism in things.

The film is very well shot and nice to look at with its scenery of India, and the script is very well written allowing quiet character development.  It also boasts an all-star cast who all turn in very good performances, and it never drags throughout its 2 hour running time.

A story about life and living, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one worth seeing.  While it opened a couple of months ago, the film is still enjoying a run at several theatre locations across the country.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

“Everything will be alright in the end.  If it is not alright, then it is not yet the end.”  This is the motto of Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), owner of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.  When lonely English widower Evelyn (Judi Dench) receives a gift package for a trip to Jaipur, India she decides to go to retire there.  Other English seniors are also going.  Muriel (Maggie Smith) is a diehard racist who needs not only her hip replaced but her attitude as well.  Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) are struggling to keep their marriage together.  Norman (Ronald Pickup) is looking for a friend with benefits and Madge (Celia Imfrie) is looking for love.  Graham (Tom Wilkinson), who hasn’t been to India for over forty years, is searching for a long lost love.

When the elderly group arrives at the hotel, they are disappointed.  Much of it is dilapidated, despite Sonny’s reassurance that “all will be alright in the end.”  Meanwhile, Sonny has fallen in love with a girl his mother does not approve of.  However, as time goes on, everyone begins to change each other’s lives in a good way.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming and sometimes bittersweet movie.  The human connections throughout the film are quite moving, inevitably sad at times, but always heartwarming and genuine.

The film captures both the extreme poverty and overcrowding of Jaipur, India, as well as the warm and colourful beauty of the city.  Thomas Newman’s score, which combines Indian and Western elements, compliments the film well.  This is a feel good film about embracing life.  With no violence and very little language, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel provides a welcome vacation for anyone from teens to seniors.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Need a mini vacation?  Head to Jaipur, India with an eccentric group of British seniors and discover what it means to live and love at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Colourful, charming and heartwarming (even if it is a little rundown) the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful is where seven seniors lives are changed forever.

The hotel is run by the perpetually optimistic and enthusiastic young Indian manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel).  Sonny is full of reassuring bits of wisdom he likes to share with the seniors.  His favourite saying is “everything will be alright in the end.  If it is not alright, then it is not yet the end.”  Since the hotel is not quite as it seemed in the brochures and online, Sonny has a lot of reassuring to do.

The seniors’ experience is told partly through the voiceover narration of one of their travel blogs.  Evelyn (Judi Dench) is recently widowed and wants to use the trip as an opportunity to try new experiences including using the internet to document her journey.  At the hotel she meets and gets to know Graham (Tom Wilkinson) a retired judge who is coming to terms with his past.  Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) are an old married couple trying to sort out how they want to live out their retirement years.

Norman (Ronald Pickup) feels he has a few good years left in him and would like to find a woman who still finds him attractive.  Madge (Elia Imrie) is tired of playing Grandma back home in England and needs some adventure and perhaps a rich husband.  Finally there’s Muriel (Maggie Smith) a cranky woman who normally wouldn’t be caught dead in India, except that hip replacement surgery is quicker and cheaper there.

The strength of this movie is the wonderful cast of actors.  Each of them are believable and likeable as individuals and play off each other beautifully.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming and sweet movie from start to finish.  With colourful cinematography and a really nice score by Thomas Newman, this is a delightful film that is appealing to audiences of all ages, but especially seniors.  Check this one out if you can while it’s still in theatres, and watch for it once it’s available on DVD in September.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India is a far cry from its former glory, as seven English seniors discover when they fall for its internet ads promising a luxurious retirement at reasonable prices. For those able to cope with the initial culture shock however, the loss in creature comforts is far outweighed by the rich experiences that await them.

The excellent ensemble cast, including Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie as the seniors and Dev Patel as the ever optimistic hotelier are all well served by a witty and touching script and beautiful overall production. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is highly recommended. 


Consensus: With uniformly excellent performances from a strong ensemble cast and beautiful cinematography of India, John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wonderful and touching film that reminds us to embrace life.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill Day permalink
    July 28, 2012 1:34 am

    Your Consensus summary is spot on. As a side note, I lived in Jaipur in the 1960’s. The cinematography is beautifully done, and evokes the city perfectly in its dramatic beauty, colour, raging life and squalor.


    • July 28, 2012 11:44 am

      Wonderfully said. It’s nice to hear from someone who has personal connections to the setting of the film and we’re glad that you enjoyed our reviews.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      -John C.


  2. May 6, 2013 7:42 am

    Sweet review! I like your style and tone 🙂

    Check out mine!

    Cheers x


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