Yesterday – being Mother’s Day and all – I took the old dear to the cinema to see The Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Loosely adapted from Deborah Moggach’s novel, These Foolish Things, John Madden’s film sees a group of pensioners (including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson) move to India for a magnitude of reasons.
The film has received mixed reviews – The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw concluded that the film is really “just a Saga holiday to Tea with Mussolini, a world in which picturesque oldsters, out of their comfort zone, demonstrate vulnerability, vitality and pluck” while Allan Hunter in the Daily Express believes that Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) is guilty of overacting as Sonny, an enthusiastic young Indian entrepreneur.
Yet while the plot is tad predictable at times, it is also poignant and very, very watchable. I found it refreshing to watch a film in which the elderly, rather than being ignored (or worse patronised) , take a starring role. Dame Judi Dench stars – and I mean stars – as Evelyn, a woman dealing with both bereavement and the discovery that the dearly departed husband on whom she depended on, has left her with a load of debt. Elsewhere Maggie Smith excels as Muriel (a racist pensioner in search of quick, cheap hip replacement) while Penelope Wilton lights up the screen as one of half of a a disgruntled couple who have lent their life-savings to their daughter – only to watch them (and their marriage) go up in smoke.
But the real star of the show is India: treasured temples, brightly coloured saris and sunshine had me thumbing through my much loved (but little used) Lonely Planet India guide as soon as I got home. However if you haven’t got the cash/time for a trip to India, then this retirement romp makes for an enjoyable and affordable alternative.