Take a generous helping of the best of British acting talent.
Add an exotic (yes, really) location like Rajasthan, India.
Combine with great filming and the result is a colourful, happy, feel-good, entertaining confection.
This film is a delight.
It may not be the most searingly important film on the circuit, and it might not address issues of world importance, but it manages to make you happy, make you smile, make you cry a little bit (though I do cry at the drop of a hat, to be fair) and after all, why else do you go to the cinema ?
Our standard noisy Delhi cinema audience, who had chattered and gossiped on their mobiles through all the trailers, were pin-drop quiet during the movie.
Admittedly a few mobiles did go off, but that’s par for the course. There’s always one who ignores the request to turn the critters off.
It was extra fun, as a Brit living in India, to sit and watch a film about Brits moving to India. The (Indian) audience clearly loved the movie, though I realised I was a lone voice laughing out loud at “building tea.”
The film tells the story of a group of British pensioners lured to India in separate ways and by separate decisions, to spend their twilight years in what they imagine will be palatial splendour, with almost certainly an overlay of colonial glory.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is, shall we say, not quite what they had expected. Despite the bubbling enthusiasm of the young manager Sunny (Dev Patel) the palace of their dreams is little more than a tatty, run down hotel. Bags of charm but certainly not splendid.
The British pensioners react in various ways. Some complain, some hate it, some good-naturedly accept it and some eventually come to love it. Each one of them tackles this new chapter of their lives with different degrees of positivity and gung-ho-ness.
The pensioners are all ever so British, in ever so many different ways.
I won’t spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that it has (almost) a totally happy ending.
The cast is beyond stellar with Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith turning in fabulous performances. Maggie Smith is utterly brilliant.
Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton – the cast is absolutely perfect.
Despite the revulsion some of the Brits feel at the squalor and dirt and chaos and noise of India, overall the country comes out a winner. India is not romanticised, but by and large the Indians are kind, polite, caring, non-whingeing nice people. Certainly nicer than the British families most of the pensioners have left behind in England.
A happy feel-good film, beautifully shot, and a perfect family choice.