The British have practically cornered the multiplex’s senior demo (think Waking Ned Devine and Calendar Girls) and look to be continuing the run with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a recent hit with the U.K.’s aging boomer set, now stateside. Reliable middlebrow craftsman John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) makes neat work of Deborah Moggach’s novel about a group of disparate British retirees lured—for cut-rate surgery, low-overhead living, or reasons they hope to keep private—to the Indian subcontinent, where they find themselves together under the roof of the titular hotel. The cast is led by Dame Judi Dench as a long-sheltered widow looking to stand on her own two feet. Marigold Hotel has that oh-so-tactful British touch, the seeming result of an industry-wide gentleman’s agreement never to go too far. The material is ribald but, of course, never crude and sewn with “Life begins at 60” affirmations; the plot twists are about as venerable as the cast and predictably affecting when performed with such old-hand proficiency. Although the film is overextended by a few plotlines too many, you’ll look forward to Tom Wilkinson’s turn as a retired high-court judge who still goes fluttery over the memory of an affair from schoolboy days and Bill Nighy as a shy, ineffably decent man, quietly surprised by how nimble he becomes in this new atmosphere.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2012