Film review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (four out of five stars)

(12A) 124mins

Tuesday, 6th March 2012, 9:54 am

Director: John Madden

Starring: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson

IT’S not always the case that a movie packed with stars will be a success but this gentle British comedy has proved popular with many people of a more mature age.

To be honest, any movie with Judi Dench appearing is pretty much guaranteed worth a look and the rest of the cast is in fine form too.

However, left in the hands of a lesser cast and director this could have turned very twee or ended up like a Carry On... film.

Instead we have a pleasant, if not demanding, story showcasing some of this country’s top actors.

The plot sees a group of retired people travelling to India for various reasons but all taking up residence in the hotel of the title.

However, the photos in the brochure are rather different from the real thing - a rundown building looked after by a young Indian (Dev Patel) who is struggling to make a success of his life.

Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) uses the Indian background and culture well to reveal a bustling lifestyle and a people happy to embrace life.

However, he doesn’t shy away from the decaying buildings and poverty.

Each of the British characters have a strong storyline and seem to revel in their part.

Tom Wilkinson gives a particularly good performance as a retitred judge returning to India to answer some personal questions that have troubled him most of his life.

Celia Imrie and Penelope Wilton have, perhaps, the least ‘meaty’ roles, but deal with them admirably and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) continues to impress.

Maggie Smith plays a grumpy racist and although it’s fairly obvious what will happen to her attitude as the movie progresses, it’s still a pleasure to watch her in action.

Judi Dench reveals why she is a star, with a performance full of subtlety and skill.

Finally, Bill Nighy and Ronald Pickup provide some of the best comic touches, though often tinged with a feeling of sadness.

Overall it’s a film full of charm that’s well worth a look.

Steve Payne

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley