When the weather is bad on a Saturday in Wellington, there are not a lot of warm and dry options, which is how four of us happened to go to the movies to see the improbably titled The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sunny, vibrant, noisy – it was a perfect choice for a gloomy afternoon.
You don’t have to be retired to like this film, but it is about retirees, a group of Brits who cannot bear the prospect of living out their years in the bland, beige security of a seniors’ community. They opt instead for the foreign glamour of a residential hotel in Jaipur.
The cast, including Tom Wilkerson, Bill Nighy, Judy Dench, and Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith (both fresh from Downton Abbey) is superb. They are somewhat typecast (Maggie Smith comes to India for hip surgery hoping that no actual Indians will be involved), but the story is not as predictable as one might imagine. These are the feisty old folks we all want to be – edgy, adventurous and open to possibility.
Best of all, they all look their age, and they look marvellous! Judy Dench is adorable – and wrinkled-- much more appealing physically than she is as the airbrushed Dame Sybil Thorndike in My Week with Marilyn, the film I saw on my Air New Zealand return.
Which reminds me. The hotel’s complete title is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.
Now there is a residence where I would really enjoy retirement-- especially if Judy Dench were living next door.