Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: an Entertaining Metaphor for Aging
The other night we went to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and boy, did we enjoy ourselves.
A group of British retirees, most seeking lower costs and a bit of adventure, ends up as the guests in a seedy, formerly grand hotel in Jaipur, India. In fact, the hotel is terrible. It’s not what they expect, but the endearing, entrepreneurial proprietor draws them in. As the movie zooms in on the characters’ personal stories we found ourselves gazing through familiar late-in-life prisms. Did I mention some of the fairly obnoxious adult children?
Marigold introduces a woman who was let go after training her own replacement, the parents who invested in their daughter’s start-up (yes, boomers everywhere are giving lots of money to their kids), and the woman who trusted her beloved husband who then left her in debt. We become acquainted with a retired attorney, drawn back to the place of a great love affair, and several others who just want to be less lonely. Because these are British characters, the frustrations tend to be understated — but frustrations, none the less. The Indian characters are just as engaging, fully developed, and far more exuberant.
In the movie, the guests change and get over stereotypes, making decisions that help them learn more about aging while also finding ways to live their lives more fully. I won’t give away any more of the plot.
Watching them cope with the streets of Jaipur was great fun. And the cinematography was extraordinary, drawing viewers right into the crowded city with its people, vehicles, and animals.
The Washington Post, gave this movie a fairly sour review, and we almost decided not to go (we now wonder if the reviewer was too young to understand or just has no connection with aging friends or family members).
Marigold Hotel, with its stellar cast, identifies some of today’s most significant aging issues — OK, some of the portrayals are a bit sappy, just as the Post reviewer claimed, but the bottom line is that people, despite aging, have much to live for and give throughout their lives.
I agree with Mick LaSalle’s movie review in the San Francisco Chronicle which concludes:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a rare reminder from movies that the grand emotions are not only for the young and the middle-aged. They’re the sweetness and torment of life until the last light goes out.