May 21, 2012 | By: Brian Dixon
I’m a sucker for all-things British, a total anglo-phile, and cast Judi Dench or Maggie Smith in anything and I’ll be there.
So it took no convincing for me to head out to watch the new movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The plot involves a series of English elderly adults who for a variety of circumstances find themselves in India at an extended stay hotel, run by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame. Primarily they chose the Marigold because of its advertised amenities but also because it fit within their modest budgets, a widow whose husband had squandered all their savings, a couple who’d invested their pension in their daughter’s failed start-up, and a woman in need of a surgery that was only affordable and immediately available in this foreign land.
The entire film centers around this amazing cast of aging characters and the ways that they are attempting to not just cope but thrive in a new and for some, an undesired, situation. The movie also beautifully conveys the marginalization of the aged in society, juxtaposing these old age pensioners, as they say in the United Kingdom, with the untouchables of India. The main characters have become untouchable. But at the Marigold, and in this movie, they are beautiful.
The full title of the movie is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Beautiful and the Elderly, but the last bit was removed, probably because the title was simply too long. However, I also wonder if it was removed for another reason. Most people don’t see the elderly as beautiful. Definitely not in Hollywood where wrinkled skin, thinning hair, and sagging parts are signs of failure not a life well lived. Even in a movie where all of these natural signs of aging are celebrated, did the young and tight win out? Is it so hard to imagine that someone in their 70s or 80s or even their 90s might actually be living life fully and might be beautiful? I hope not.
And in this movie, despite its abridged title, it is not hard to believe. The characters are passionate, funny, angry, sexy, and yes, beautiful. So when the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Beautiful and the Elderly makes it way to a theater near you, go see it. You may not come out craving fish-n-chips and wanting to immediately watch Downton Abbey, but you will come out more fully appreciating the beauty of all people regardless of age.