8.5 out of 10 

Release Date: 24th February 2012

Director: John Madden: (Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel / The Debt / Shakespeare In Love / Captain Corelli’s Mandolin / Ethan Frome)

Cast: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Tena Desae, Diana Hardcastle with Lillete Dubey and Penelope Wilton

Writer: Ol Parker & Deborah Moggach



The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those winter released movies that are designed to get the older cinema viewer rounding up in droves. These type of films are sure fire hits and usually run and run at the UK box-office – even playing down to the smallest rural cinemas. Most of them are fairly dry affairs and they feature the usual actors that have been furnishing them for decades. Here is one of the best ones. Whilst The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may run according to plan, the storylines and the characters are all very engaging and leave most other films like this trailing in its wake.

Based on a best seller by author Deborah Moggach, it tells the story of half a dozen or so ex-pat retirees from Britain who want to spend their last years in the sunny climes of Jaipur in India. They have all found the newly open, barely operational titular hovel run by aimable try-hard business man Sonny (DEV PATEL – SLUMDOG MILLIONNAIRE).

Bankrupt widower, Evelyn (JUDI DENCH – PHILOMENA) has to resort to finding a job in an Indian call-centre, married couple Douglas (BILL NIGHY – UNDERWORLD) and Jean (PENELOPE WILTON – CARRINGTON) cannot afford to live in the UK any longer, racist Muriel (MAGGIE SMITH – SISTER ACT) needs a cheap hip replacement, high court judge, Graham (TOM WILKINSON – RUSH HOUR) has returned to India to lay some ghosts to rest and the other two, Madge (CELIA IMRIE – STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE) and Norman (RONALD PICKUP – BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL 2) fart about as comic relief.

Originally cast as villain of the piece, Maggie Smith‘s character slowly learns the errors of her ways and grows to accept and love India and probably has the most fun with her initially vile character. But the cast standout has to be Tom Wilkinson whose story arc has the most weight and poignance – it’s a shame he won’t be returning for the sequel. Bill Nighy starts off doing his staple laid back act but begins to show his teeth and mettle when his atrocious wife Jean (PENELOPE WILTON) complains and rejects India as a whole and begins to make his life hell, also endangering his blossoming friendship with Evelyn. Dev Patel bounces back from the truly awful career misstep in The Last Airbender to cement his place as one of the UK’s most promising leading actors. This is how big-budget character pieces should be done. There’s enough meat on the film’s bones but no gristle. It still flows along rapidly with twists and turns and some nice surprises along the way.

8.5 out of 10 – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is so well calibrated that I could find nothing  to dislike about it. I’ve seen it three times now and it improves on repeat viewing. It’s an easy pleasurable lazy watch that scores extra points because of my interest in India and my desire to spend time there in the future.  As Tom Wilkinson‘s character says “All Life Is Here!” and as a mainstream grey-blockbuster it delivers and sets the bar for its genre. Until the sequel then!


  • Judi Dench: Tulip Fever, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, PhilomenaRun For Your WifeJames Bond – Skyfall, J. Edgar, My Week With Marilyn, Jane Eyre (2011), Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, Nine, Notes On A Scandal, James Bond – Golden Eye, James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, James Bond – Die Another Day, James Bond – Casino Royale, James Bond – Quantum Of Solace, Mrs Henderson Presents, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Ladies In Lavender, The Chronicles Of Riddick, The Importance Of Being Earnest, The Shipping News, Iris, Chocolat, Tea With Mussolini, Shakespeare In Love, Hamlet (1995), Mrs Brown, Jack & Sarah, Henry V (1989), A Handful Of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room With a View
  • Bill Nighy: Dad’s Army, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Pride (2014), I Frankenstein, About Time, The World’s End (voice), Jack The Giant Slayer, Total Recall (2012), Wrath Of The Titans, Arthur Christmas (voice), Chalet Girl, Rango (voice), Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows- part 1, Wild Target (2010), Glorious 39, The Boat That Rocked, Underworld 3, Valkyrie, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Hot Fuzz, Notes On a Scandal, Flushed Away (voice), Alex Rider- Stormbreaker, Pirates Of The Caribbean 2, Underworld 2, The Constant Gardner, A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2006), The Magic Roundabout (voice), Enduring Love, Shaun Of The Dead, Underworld, Love Actually, State Of Play (TV), I Capture The Castle, Auf Wierdesen Pet! (TV), The Lost Prince, Lucky Break, The Lawless Heart, Blow Dry, Guest House Paradiso, Still Crazy, Alive and Kicking (1996), Being Human, True Blue
  • Tom Wilkinson: Bone In The Throat, Good People, Unfinished Business, Felony, Belle, The Lone Ranger (2013), Mission Impossible 4, Burke & Hare, The Green Hornet, The Debt, The Ghost, 44 Inch Chest, Duplicity, Valkyrie, Rock-N-Rolla, Michael Clayton, Cassandra’s Dream, The Last Kiss, Seperate Lies, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, Batman Begins, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Before You Go, The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002),  In The Bedroom, Black Knight, Another Life, Essex Boys, The Patriot, Ride With The Devil,  Shakespeare In Love, Rush Hour, The Governess, Oscar & Lucinda, Wilde, The Full Monty, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, The Ghost and The Darkness, Sense and Sensibility, Martin Chuzzlewit (TV), Priest (1994),  A Business Affair, Paper Mask
  • Maggie Smith: The Lady In The Van, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, My Old Lady, Downton Abbey (TV), Quartet, Harry Potter – 1 to 8, Nanny McPhee 2, Keeping Mum, Ladies In Lavender, Gosford Park, Tea With Mussollini, Washington Square, The First Wives’ Club, Richard III (1995), The Secret Garden, Sister Act 1 & 2, Hook, A Room With a View, A Private Function, The Missionary, California Suite, Death On The Nile, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, Othello (1965)
  • Dev Patel: Chappie, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,The Newsroom (TV), Slumdog Millionnaire, The Last Airbender, Skins (TV)
  • Celia Imrie: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Nativity 3, What We Did On Our Holiday, The Love Punch, St Trinians 2, Nanny McPhee, St Trinians, Imagine Me & You, Wah-Wah, Bridget Jones  2, Wimbledon, Calendar Girls, Heartlands, Thunderpants, Bridget Jones, Lucky Break, Gormenghast (TV), Dinner Ladies (TV), Star Wars – The Phantom Menace, Hilary & Jackie, The Borrowers (1997), In The Bleak Midwinter, Frankenstein (1994)
  • Ronald Pickup: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Prince Of Persia, Holby City (TV), Lolita (1997), Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis, The Mission, James Bond – Never Say Never Again
  • Tena Desae: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Diana Hardcastle: Good People, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Lilette Dubey: Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Lunchbox, Monsoon Wedding
  • Penelope Wilton: Downton Abbey (TV), Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Belle, Dr Who (TV), The History Boys, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Match Point, Shaun Of The Dead, Calendar Girls, Iris, Carrington, The Secret Rapture, Blame It On The Bellboy, Ever Decreasing Circles (TV), Cry Freedom, Clockwise, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s