Judi Dench as Evelyn, Tom Wilkinson as Graham, and Bill Nighy as Douglas star in THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, a film directed by John Madden. Photo by Ishika Mohan. Picture courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.
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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011/2012)
Opened: 05/04/2012 Limited
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Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: British Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG-13 for for sexual content and language.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is supposed to be India's answer for the UK's most elegant retirees -- a place where they can spend their golden years surrounded by lush amenities -- that is, until seven retirees who are in need of a transformation find themselves on the front steps of the not-quite-ready resort. Thus begins a comic, romantic and poignant adventure in a land full of unexpected pleasures, brought to life by some of the most honored and accomplished screen actors of our time.
Arriving in sun-baked Jaipur, with only the hope to begin their life anew amidst their own personal baggage are: the bereaved and financially stranded Evelyn (Judi Dench), the disillusioned High Court Judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson), the quarrelsome couple Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton), the die-hard love seekers Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie), and Muriel (Maggie Smith) -- who intends to have her hip replaced and immediately leave India for good. They are all at the mercy of the hotel's ambitiously naive young owner, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), who inherited the once sophisticated building from his father hoping to turn it into a high end luxury hotel. So far, he might only have chaos to offer, but what Sonny lacks in resources, he makes up for in enthusiasm.
Still, the new residents are aghast to find "improvements" to the property have stalled, leaving such amenities as water, electricity and phones iffy at best. They are equally disoriented by an India full of contrasts, at once intoxicating and frightening, traditional and modern, beautiful and strange. At first, these seven newcomers seem unsure about what the future might hold. However, as they begin to forge new friendships, they make some unexpected discoveries and start to let go of the past.
Fox Searchlight Pictures Presents, in association with Participant Media and ImageNation Abu Dhabi, a Blueprint Pictures Production, a film by John Madden, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, with a cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel. The film is directed by John Madden (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) from a script by Ol Parker and based on the novel "These Foolish Things" by Deborah Moggach. The producers are Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin of Blueprint Pictures. The executive producers are Jeff Skoll, Ricky Strauss and Jonathan King.
About the Film
When the first seven brave souls arrive at India's debut retirement hotel catering to British citizens in their autumn years, it is nothing like what was advertised. The manager promises them a transformation, but it is not just the building that is transformed in John Madden's THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL.
Their adventures began in the mind of British novelist Deborah Moggach, who imagined a group of cash-strapped pensioners who find themselves "outsourced" to India, each willing (or forced) to try relocating to an exotic locale at a fraction of the usual retirement price. The book won praise for its characters that, at an age when most people are slowing down and staying close to home, embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Producers Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin saw the potential for an unusual and original film experience. "We loved her concept of outsourcing retirement, taking our outsourcing of everyday tasks like banking and customer service one step further," says Broadbent. "Deborah had pondered where she would like to end up in her golden years, and decided living above an Indian bazaar would be endlessly fascinating. The wonderful part is that just when her characters could be entering a greyer period of their lives, a whole new chapter opens up, with a literal explosion of color and brightness, and an opportunity to reinvent themselves."
Screenwriter Ol Parker took that scenario and ran with it. "I saw an opportunity to create a romantic comedy for a different generation, centered on people in their 60s and 70s," says Parker, who last wrote and directed the twenty-something romantic comedy IMAGINE ME & YOU. "What was so appealing to me is that as we get older, we tend to not stray out of our comfort zones, I loved the idea of taking this group of people and putting them somewhere where they are completely out of their element. I also enjoyed the idea of a love story about men and women who have had a whole lifetime of experience."
To direct the film, Broadbent and Czernin approached John Madden, one of England's most lauded, cinematic storytellers, whose films include the Best Picture Oscar® winner SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and the recent thriller THE DEBT. Madden found the premise irresistible: seven people -- stranded for different reasons at the point in their lives where opportunities have disappeared -- dropped into a strange, intoxicating and threatening new world. It offered the comedy of displacement alongside the melancholy of loss -- and the tribulations and joys of trying to grow older with grace and vitality.
"The script is funny and rich, and it's not just a comedy," notes Madden. "It also deals with bereavement, loneliness and isolation, and confronts the question of what is really possible as you get older. Can you still start over again? Is it ever too late to change?"
The answer for those at the Marigold Hotel might seem uncertain, but it becomes a resounding "No" for most of the characters, although in very individual and unique ways.
Madden was excited from the start to pull together an ensemble cast who could bring each of these journeys alive in vivid and human ways. "A lot of my work has been with ensembles, and I'm interested by stories of people in suspension, where different rules apply, where only the present tense matters." he says. "In SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, the characters were suspended in the enchanted universe of the theatre, and of the play; in THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL the characters are in an analogous kind of geographical suspension. They've entered a strange world removed from their former reality, cut off from their past, where they have to invent a new life for themselves."
The fact that the characters are in the latter part of life turned out to be a real advantage. "Since the characters are all of a certain age, it was a chance to cast actors who are at the peak of their abilities," explains Madden. "They were the most extraordinary resource and they brought the story alive. The sheer level of comic talent, acting skill and depth of experience was staggering. The only thing we had to do was bring them together with an equally skilled ensemble of Indian actors, and then watch them collide with this magnificent country."
"In this story, definitions of age and maturity completely fall away," sums up Madden, "because the characters are made young again by the situations they find themselves in. Challenged and overwhelmed by the experience of modern India, caught in different forms of emotional realignment - friendships, liaisons, rivalries -- as well as in unfinished business that sparks in comic eruptions -- they find that ultimately the only thing that matters is what is happening right then and there, between them."