It’s Foodie Movie night at the McArdle’s and we can hardly wait to watch tonight’s feature – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! A big thank you to our favorite movie critic; Paul McGuire for this recommendation and review. I’m off to the grocery store to buy some ingredients to make some Indian spiced nuts, Chutney and Naan to nibble on as we watch the great Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in their adventure! Enjoy!
Evelyn (Dench) is a recent widow and is going outside her comfort zone. She is traveling to India to spend some time at an exotic hotel specifically designed or the elderly and beautiful. Her son comments on how she has never done anything without his dad in her life. She is joined by a group of others that are
also taking this pilgrimage for their own specific reasons. Graham (Wilkinson) is retiring from being a judge and is moving back
to India. Jean (Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton) and Doug (Nighy) are looking for a less expensive place to retire. Muriel (Smith) needs to have hip surgery and a surgeon in India happens to be the cheaper solution for her. Madge and Norman are two singles looking for adventure.
The group arrives at their hotel and our greeted by the manager, Sonny (Patel). Much to their surprise, the hotel is less than stellar in appearance. It is dusty, run down, the phones don’t work, and it is not the picture of exotic that was shown in the brochure. Sonny is full of exuberance and ambition
desperately trying to appeal to the group and make them feel at home. The group settles in and seems to grow into their new surroundings. Evelyn gets a job as a “cultural advisor” at a call center. She and Graham’s friendship starts to grow. He confides in her that he came back to India to find his long lost love that he left many years ago. Evelyn narrates the story as it follows each of our elderly and beautiful characters some of whom embrace their new life
with vitality and vigor while others cannot seem to adjust.
I somehow missed seeing the movie in theaters, but I think that it might be more enjoyable at home nestled under a quilt or afghan with a cup of wine or tea in hand. The holidays can be so crazy and hectic that you need a good escape movie. A movie that can completely take your mind off the cookies that need to be made, the gifts that need to be wrapped, the cards that need to be mailed. This is the kind of movie that can be your great escape. You can sit back and enjoy it without feeling like your mind is going to mush. There have been plenty of movies about characters retreating to a foreign destination, so do not go in thinking this is the most original concept. The thing that sometimes bugs me about those movies is that the central character seems to magically love the new location and fits right in the day they arrive. Somehow reality is not always like that. I have been on plenty of trips where some members of the group do not adjust well. I appreciate the fact that in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, we have characters on both ends of the spectrum. We have some characters adjust swimmingly to their new environments while some of the other characters really struggle with adapting to being in India.
The fantastic company of actors makes this movie so enjoyable by making their characters so warm, tender, and charming. I was sold on this movie the moment I saw that Judi Dench and Maggie Smith were a part of this all-star ensemble of British acting royalty. They are two of my favorite actresses who can do no wrong in my book. They are legends of both stage and screen having played some of Shakespeare’s finest characters in the West End and both
have won Academy Awards for their screen work. I have mentioned my love of Judi Dench before in my review of Chocolat. I love that despite their age; they are continually getting work and are growing a bigger audience base here in America. Dench is a staple to the new James Bond movies as M. Maggie Smith has played Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies and has won numerous awards as the hysterical Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.
If you find yourself loving this movie like I did, hopefully it will inspire you to be adventurous and take some risks. I do not mean contacting your local travel agent for a post-holidays retreat. However, that idea does sound heavenly. Indian cuisine is an area of cooking that I do not know a lot about, but have been meaning to investigate and attempt. Chicken vindaloo sounds like the perfect beginning dish. Maybe the movie will inspire you to make some new dishes to add to your repertoire. If you have seen this delightful movie, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave comments below.
Paul mcGuire, Movie Critic http://paulstriptothemovies.blogspot.com/