Making the Grades
As outsourcing menial jobs to foreign countries becomes more popular it should come as no surprise that outsourcing the care of the elderly should follow. At least that’s what Sonny (Dev Patel) hopes. The younger brother of two successful businessmen, he plans to make a name for himself by turning a rundown Indian hotel into a luxurious retirement center named The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.
Unfortunately by the time his first British guests arrive, the establishment is still in a state of disrepair. The phones aren’t working. The food is less than to be desired. And one of the rooms is even without a door.
Yet the sights and sounds (and smells) of the exotic location are enough to intrigue several of the new arrivals. Graham (Tom Wilkinson), a retired high court judge, has returned to his childhood home with hopes of finding someone he left behind many years ago. Muriel (Maggie Smith), an outspoken and racially prejudiced woman, comes to receive hip surgery at a foreign institution. After the sudden death of her husband, Evelyn (Judi Dench) discovered he had racked up a huge debt. Even the sale of her lovely flat in England won’t cover her expenses. Moving to India, she steps out of her sheltered life with hopes of finding some way to support herself. When her children discourage the move, she agrees to keep them informed with a blog about her adventures.
Meanwhile an unsuccessful investment means Douglas (Bill Nighy) and his wife (Penelope Wilton) are also looking for cheap accommodations. To be fair, Jean’s plans for her golden years did not include this much uncertainty and she is vehement about her unhappiness. Finally, despite their advancing years and fading looks, Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) are two singles still on the prowl for sexual encounters of any kind they can score.
Juggling this many storylines can be overwhelming. But Director John Madden has assembled a quality cast of experienced actors, complete with wrinkles, range and expressive eyebrows. The colorful Indian street scenes and unfamiliar faces of secondary characters help hold the audiences attention as well.
However for all the positive adaptations these aging seniors embrace in this new chapter of their lives, many of their decisions seem rash in spite of the supposed wisdom that comes with life experience. While happiness shouldn’t be denied to anyone of any age, I have to wonder if the choices many of them are making will only cause more disappointment down the road.