The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
|The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Madden|
|Produced by||Graham Broadbent
|Screenplay by||Ol Parker|
|Based on||These Foolish Things
by Deborah Moggach
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Editing by||Chris Gill|
Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Running time||124 minutes|
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a 2012 British comedy-drama film, directed by John Madden. The screenplay, written by Ol Parker, was based on the 2004 novel These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, and features an ensemble cast consisting of Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton, as a group of British pensioners moving to a retirement hotel in India, run by the young and eager Sonny, played by Dev Patel. The movie was produced by Participant Media and Blueprint Pictures on a budget of $10 million.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on 24 February 2012 and received critical acclaim; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened to strong box-office business in the United Kingdom and continued to build worldwide. It became a surprise box-office hit following its international release, eventually grossing $134 million worldwide, mostly from its domestic run. It was ranked among the highest-grossing 2012 releases in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and the highest-grossing specialty releases of the year.
Recently widowed housewife Evelyn (Dench) must sell her home to cover huge debts left by her late husband. Graham (Wilkinson), a high-court judge who had spent his first eighteen years in India, abruptly decides to retire and return there. Jean (Wilton) and Douglas (Nighy) seek a retirement they can afford, having lost most of their savings through investing in their daughter's internet business. Muriel (Smith), a retired housekeeper prejudiced against Indians and every other person of colour under the sun, needs a hip replacement operation which can be done far more quickly and inexpensively in India. Madge (Celia Imrie) is hunting for another husband, and Norman (Pickup), an aging lothario, is trying to re-capture his youth. They each decide on a retirement hotel in India, based on pictures on its website.
When the group finally arrives at the picturesque hotel, despite its energetic young manager Sonny (Patel), the hotel is very dilapidated. Jean remains ensconced in the hotel, while her husband Douglas explores the sights. Graham, finding that the area has greatly changed since his youth, disappears on long outings every day. Muriel, despite her racist attitudes, starts to appreciate her doctor for his skill and the hotel maid for her good service. Evelyn gets a job advising the staff of a call centre how to interact with older British customers. Sonny struggles to raise funds to renovate the hotel and sees girlfriend, Sunaina (Tena Desae), despite his mother's disapproval. Madge joins the Viceroy Club seeking a spouse, and is surprised to find Norman there. She introduces him to Carol (Diana Hardcastle). He admits he is lonely and seeking a companion, and the two begin an affair.
Graham confides in Evelyn that he is trying to find the Indian lover he was forced to abandon as a youth. Social-climber Jean is attracted to Graham, and makes a rare excursion to follow him, but is humiliated when he explains he is gay. Graham reunites with his former lover, who is in an arranged marriage of mutual trust and respect. Graham dies of a heart condition. Evelyn and Douglas grow increasingly close. Douglas's wife is angry, and he bursts out that he is tired of defending his wife's negative attitude, and it is clear just how unhappy their marriage has become. Muriel reveals that she was once housekeeper to a family who had her train her younger replacement and now she feels that she has lost purpose in her life. Sonny's more successful brothers each own a third of the hotel, and plan to demolish it. His mother (Lillete Dubey) agrees and wants him to return to Delhi for an arranged marriage. Jean and Douglas prepare to return to England. Now that the hotel is closing, Madge prepares to return to England and Norman agrees to move in with Carol. Madge, after encouragement from Carol and Muriel, decides to keep searching for another husband.
Sonny, encouraged by Evelyn, finally tells Sunaina that he loves her and confronts his mother, who first forbids the match but then is persuaded by the old man and she finally gives the couple her blessing. She asks Sunaina to take good care of her "favourite son". Before the remaining guests can leave, Muriel reveals that the hotel can make a profit and that Sonny's investor has agreed to fund his plans as long as Muriel stays on as assistant manager. All the guests agree to stay. Due to their daughter's long-awaited success Jean and Douglas decide to return home but on the way to the airport their taxi gets caught in a traffic jam and a rickshaw driver says that he can only take one of them. Jean sees it as a sign that it's time to split with Douglas and tells him goodbye and leaves. He winds up at the wrong hotel spends the rest of the night wandering the streets. He returns to the hotel just as Evelyn is leaving for work, and asks when she'll be back; she says about 5PM. He asks her how she wants her tea. A closing montage with a voiceover shows Muriel checking in customers in an elegant renovated lobby, Madge dining with a handsome older Indian man, and Norman and Carol living happily together. Sonny and Sunaina are shown riding a motorbike and passing Douglas and Evelyn on another bike.
- Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade, a newly widowed housewife whose house must be sold to pay off her husband's debts. Like his father, her son wants to "care" for her, without her input. At Sonny's home for the "elderly and beautiful", she keeps a blog of her activities. She narrates throughout, to Day 51 moral at end "We get up in the morning, we do our best".
- Bill Nighy as optimist Douglas Ainslie, husband of Jean for 39 years. His loyalty has kept them together when she sees they both "deserve better". He enjoys the food and sights, going out every day.
- Penelope Wilton as pessimist Jean Ainslie. After Douglas invested – and seemingly lost – all their savings in their daughter's internet business, they can only afford a "beige bungalow" installed with a panic button and hand rails "for the future". She hates everything about India - noise, poverty, smells - stays inside always, and wants to return to England.
- Maggie Smith as Muriel Donnelly, an ex-housekeeper with a head for figures, is deemed surplus to requirements by her lifelong employers after she unwittingly trains her own replacement. She has no family of her own, having devoted her life to her employers. Although bitterly racist, she chooses not to wait six months for a hip replacement, rather be "outsourced" to India.
- Tom Wilkinson as Graham Dashwood, a High Court judge who has, for many years, been retiring "any day now". During the retirement speech of a colleague, he decides that "today's the day". Having lived in India for his first 18 years, he returns to the love of his life, a man.
- Ronald Pickup as Norman Cousins, an aged lothario, unable to face up to his own age and consequent undesirability by younger women, hopes for a new start with new possibilities in India.
- Celia Imrie as Madge Hardcastle has had several unsuccessful marriages. Like Norman, she wants fun, adventure and a new mate. Tired of her daughter's attempts to keep her as unpaid babysitter, she flees for anywhere, choosing India.
- Dev Patel as Sonny Kapoor, manager of the hotel, and one-third owner with his older, more favoured brothers. Sonny is a dreamer eager for a first success, but his determination makes him unwilling to ask for help until the end.
- Tena Desae as Sunaina, call centre worker, Sonny's "modern" girlfriend. She becomes friends with Evelyn when Evelyn gets a job at the same call centre.
- Sid Makkar as Jay, Sunaina's brother, manager of a call centre, hires Evelyn to teach workers British culture.
- Lillete Dubey as Mrs. Kapoor, widowed mother of Sonny. She admits that Sonny is not her favourite son, and wants him to move back with her to Delhi for an arranged marriage, not to Sunaina.
- Diana Hardcastle as Carol, an Englishwoman but lifelong resident of Jaipur, who asks Norman to move in "too soon".
- Seema Azmi as Anokhi, a Dalit lowest-caste maid at the hotel who takes Muriel's acknowledgement for friendship. Via a translator, Muriel reveals that her bitterness was caused when the family who employed her for most of her life tossed her aside as useless after she devoted her life, love, and trained a young replacement.
- Paul Bhattacharjee as Dr. Ghujarapartidar. This was Bhattacharjee's final feature film appearance before his death in 2013.
- Ramona Marquez as grandchild of Madge.
- Liza Tarbuck as head nurse Karen.
- Louise Brealey as hairdresser
Principal photography began on 10 October 2010 in India. Most of the filming took place in the Indian state of Rajasthan, including the cities of Jaipur and Udaipur. According to Madden, Rajasthan was selected as "the place to film because the terrain felt right, most particularly the colors felt right. It's just an incredibly rich color palette you find in that part of India. It felt right to us as the setting for the story," he said. Ravla Khempur, an equestrian hotel about an hour and a half outside of Udaipur, was chosen as the site for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The hotel was originally the palace of a tribal chieftain. Other scenes were shot in Kishangarh, at a watering hole near Amer Fort, the Kanota Fort outside Jaipur and near the Lake Palace Hotel at Lake Pichola. Madden cited the noise as well as the people's curiosity and hospitality upon producing a camera anywhere among the challenges of filming in India.
The film was first shown at the Italian cinema trade show Le Giornate Professionali di Cinema ("The Professional Days of Cinema") in Sorrento on 30 November 2011 and at the Glasgow Film Festival on 17 February 2012, before being released widely in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 24 February 2012. This was followed by release in a further 26 countries in March and April.
In the United Kingdom, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came in second to The Woman in Black at the box office in its first week, earning £2.2 million. It eventually topped the UK box office with £2.3 million in its second weekend on release. By the end of its UK run, the film had grossed around $31 million. Prior to its United States debut, the comedy had already grossed $69 million worldwide and passed both The Queen (2006) and Calendar Girls (2003) in total international grosses. After three months of release, it was ranked the third highest-grossing 2012 release in Australia and New Zealand behind only The Avengers and The Hunger Games and fourth-highest-grossing 2012 title in the UK.
In the United States, the film initially opened in 16 theaters in its first week. In its second week of release, it expanded from 16 to 178 screens in North America and grossed $2.7 million for the weekend, ending eighth on the week's top hits. By the end of the month, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had amassed nearly $20 million in the United States and crossed $100 million in worldwide gross receipts. As of October 2012, the film has grossed $46,412,041 in North America and $87,976,766 in other territories for a total of $134,388,807. It ranks among the best international grossing film released worldwide by Fox Searchlight Pictures behind Black Swan (2010), The Full Monty (1997), and The Descendants (2011), and among the highest grossing specialty releases of the year along with Moonrise Kingdom and To Rome with Love.
The film has received positive reviews by critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 78% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 149 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10. Its consensus states "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn't groundbreaking storytelling, but it's a sweet story about the senior set featuring a top-notch cast of veteran actors." On Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film holds a 62/100 rating, based on 35 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle remarked that the film was "a rare reminder from movies that the grand emotions are not only for the young and the middle-aged", citing it "too well made to be dismissed and contains too much truth to be scorned." Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times gave The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel three and a half out of four stars. He declared the film "a charming, funny and heartwarming movie [and] a smoothly crafted entertainment that makes good use of seven superb veterans." Claudia Puig from USA Today called it "a refreshing, mature fairy tale with a top-notch ensemble cast." While she felt the film was "about 15 minutes too long", she summarized it as "a delightful, droll and entertaining comedy of manners with an estimable cast" and an "ideal low-tech alternative to the special-effects laden" film projects of 2012.
Peter Travers from Rolling Stone rated the comedy three out of four stars. He found that "with a lesser cast, the movie would be a lineup of TV-movie clichés. But this is a cast that never makes a false move even when the script settles for formula." Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips wrote that "as two-hour tours go, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel goes smoothly." While he felt that the film focused on "pleasantly predictable story", he noted that the project was one of those films which "are better off concentrating on a reassuring level of actorly craft [than] going easy on the surprises."
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly graded the film with a 'B–' rating, summing it as a "lulling, happy-face story of retirement-age self-renewal, set in a shimmering, weltering, jewel-colored India." She wrote that "as a brand extender (for the senior cast, for the director, and certainly for Patel, following the grand success of Slumdog), Marigold Hotel achieves what it sets out to do: Sell something safe and sweet, in a vivid foreign setting, to an underserved share of the moviegoing market."
At the Cinema Scapes Awards, organised on the sidelines of the 2012 Mumbai Film Festival, the film was honoured with the Best International Film accolade for showcasing Indian filming locations. The film and its cast earned five nominations from the British Independent Film Awards.
On 29 October 2012, Vulture reported that screenwriter Ol Parker was consulted to deliver a treatment to Fox Searchlight executives for a sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. As reported, the principal cast "all want to come back".
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- Official website
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at allmovie
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Box Office Mojo
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the Internet Movie Database
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2 at the Internet Movie Database