Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – For the Elderly & Beautiful (on screen title and subtitle) / The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Finnish title) / Hotell Marigold (Swedish title in Sweden)
    GB © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, PM/IN Fund, LLC and Dune Entertainment III LLC in all territories except Brazil, Italy, Japan, Korea and Spain. © 2011 TCF Hungary Film Rights Exploitation Limited Liability Company, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, PM/IN Fund, LLC and Dune Entertainment III LLC in Brazil, Italy, Japan, Korea and Spain. PC: Blueprint Pictures. P: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin. D: John Madden, SC: Ol Parker – based on the novel These Foolish Things (2004) by Deborah Moggach. DP: Ben Davis – Fuji film stock – filmed with Panavision cameras and lenses – color and prints by DeLuxe. PD: Alan MacDonald. AD: Peter Francis (superv.), Andrew Rothschild. Set dec: Tina Jones. Makeup and hair: Daniel Phillips. M: Thomas Newman. S: Ian Wilson. ED: Chris Gill. Casting: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif.
    Loc: Jaipur (and Udaipur) (Rajasthan, India).
    C: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade, a widowed housewife), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie, the long-suffering husband), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie, the nagging wife), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly, an ex-housekeeper with a head for figures, a racist having her hip replacement in India), Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood, a high court judge who lived in India for his first 18 years, returning to find his lover), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins, an ageing playboy still living in the 1960s), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle, a veteran of marriages, now looking for fun with a man at the distinguished club), Diana Hardcastle (Carol, Norman's discovery at the club), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor, the hotelkeeper), Tena Desae (Sunaina, his girlfriend), Lillete Dubey (Mother Kapoor).
    In English and Hindi.
    Released in Finland by FS Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles.
    2K DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 10, 5 May 2012.

Technical specs (IMDb): Film negative format: 35 mm (Fuji Eterna Vivid 160T 8543, Eterna Vivid 500T 8547, Eterna 500T 8573). Printed film format: D-Cinema.

Feelgood wish-fulfillment entertainment with a top cast.

The film starts well with satirical vignettes about senior people in England. Evelyn (Judi Dench) struggles to change her internet settings via a telephone help desk in India. Judge Graham Dashwood listens to his colleague's retirement speech and decides that "today's the day" to quit and go back to India. Douglas and Jean Ainslie (Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton) examine a retirement bungalow with hand rails and a panic button and decide to leave the country. The racist Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) realizes that her best option is to go to India for an instant hip replacement. The 60-something Norman Wilton (Ronald Pickup) has an internet date with an attractive 30-something woman, and it turns out that Norman has announced himself to belong to the 25–40 age category. Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) has had enough of unsuccessful marriages and instead of staying with her daughter decides to leave the country.

There are interesting themes with real substance in the movie and presumably in the novel on which it is based. The life arrangements of senior people are getting more and more important in many countries with the longer life expectancy. A widow whose husband dies and leaves nothing but debts. A couple who have risked their savings to their daughter's internet business. A lady with a hip injury facing impossible queues at the hospital.

The official plot about the dilapidated hotel which is nothing like the photoshopped photographs in the advertisements is just a framework for such stories. The story of the Kapoor family who is struggling to keep the hotel (or rather to close it) feels a bit clichéd. I have never been to India and cannot judge how authentic the account of life in Jaipur is, but the message is clear: the Europeans encounter an exciting, totally different way of life, and racist prejudices, including the caste prejudices of Indians themselves, are ridiculous. There are interesting chapters in the story. Evelyn finds the first job in her life as an adviser at the call centre in Udaipur. The racist Muriel makes awkward attempts to be nice to the hotel's cleaning lady who turns out to belong to the casteless. Madge tries to pass herself as Princess Margaret at the exclusive club. Graham, who is gay to the ladies' disappointment, finally meets again the lover of his youth.

The multi-character story is well handled with Evelyn's blog entries keeping strings together, and John Madden has a good sense of timing in comedy and satire. For three fourths of the duration the movie was better than I expected, but during the final quarter a wish-fulfillment mechanism brings all the stories to happy endings and the movie settles down to an easy entertainment mode.

The film has been shot on 35 mm photochemical film, the digital post-production has been executed well, and the movie looks good (conveying the vitality of India) even in a 2K DCP.

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