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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Blu-ray Review)

So it seems like this past summer had a lot of people heading to the art house theaters to see either Moonrise Kingdom or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, if not both, which mostly resulted in major praise for either one.  I had never got around to seeing the latter and it was because I thought it would inevitably come off with me being down on the film for playing as how it looked: a group of elderly English people visiting a foreign land and having ‘hilarious’ situations occur and matters of inappropriate decorum come up in the process.  Now that I have seen the film, I certainly have some thoughts on it, along with how the Blu-ray for this breakout summer hit stacks up.  Read on to find out whether or not I was with this adventure for the elderly.

Film: 

The story is fairly uncomplicated, but a nice way to bring a group of talented actors together.  It follows a group of British retirees who, for one reason or another, decide to “outsource” their retirement to a less expensive and seemingly exotic place – India.  This group includes recent widow, Evelyn (Judi Dench); former high court judge, Graham (Tom Wilkinson); retirees Jean (Penelope Wilton) and Doug (Bill Nighy); a xenophobic woman in need of a hip replacement, Muriel (Maggie Smith); a woman seeking a new husband, Madge (Celia Imrie); and an older womanizer, Norman (Ronald Pickup).

These people are all enticed by an advertisement for the newly restored Marigold Hotel, but they arrive to find the place a shell of its former self.  Fortunately, it is run by a very enthusiastic young manager, Sonny (Dev Patel), who is seeking to gain the approval of his own family, as he hopes to make this hotel the success he believes it capable of being.  As for the older folk, they get into various entanglements of their own, as some embrace their new exotic surroundings, while others simply deal with it.

As expected, I did not walk away from The Best Exotic Hotel with a sense of wonder about what I saw, but I did not hate it either.  It is a pleasant enough comedy-drama, with fine performances from most of the cast.  The film is just also incredibly predictable and somewhat shallow when it comes to certain characters.  It is a good thing that the film has a nice cast of elderly British actors in the starring roles, but at the same time, it was hard not to think, “Oh, these old Brits say the darndest things,” whenever it came time to see the cultural divide portrayed in full force.

I do understand that the cultural divide and the reaction these folks have to various situations is supposed to be part of the humor, especially since they are the ones who are being made the fool, but that said, it still feels like an old fashioned comedic trope that does not play as well now.  I cannot argue that it is a possibility that my age could make a difference in how I am supposed to respond to some of this, but at the same time, the rest of the film did not exactly open itself up to being much better in an effort to counter the comedic aspects.

From a dramatic standpoint, the conflicts in this film are hardly something that really seems to matter.  The film is too high-spirited to get caught up in the dramatic beats, which would explain why problems are resolved almost as quickly as they are introduced.  Some of the characters are painted in such a way that it is very obvious what is going to happen by the end of this film, while any effort to present struggle involving the hotel itself only further ensures that it will still be standing by the end of the film, let alone perhaps in better condition.

All of this said, it is the actors that keep the film entertaining.  Given the cast, it is no surprise that the performances are all pretty strong, even if no one is doing much to test themselves.  Judi Dench is probably welcoming the thought of playing a contemporary woman that is not in charge of the head office in MI6.  Bill Nighy is always a joy to see and gets some great witty dialogue.  Tom Wilkinson is easily my favorite thing in this movie, as his character has the best arc.  Maggie Smith was basically testing me with a favorite game of mine with movies, “How racist can I act, before it’s time to redeem my character,” but at least Smith is a great actress.  The rest of the cast is good enough as well, though I was underwhelmed by how shallow Penelope Wilton’s character seemed to be (I get it, she’s unhappy).  Lastly, Dev Patel has a charming enough personality, but again, the film seems to have us saying, “How Indian is he,” as we watch him struggle with parental issues involving who he should marry and negotiate a very strong accent within his performance, which consists of dialogue that leaves a lot to be desired.

Director John Madden does get to have some fun in showing off the country.  While the script by Ol Parker, based off the novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, may be lacking in more than just a reason to put good actors in an exotic location, there are some nice visuals to see and scenery to watch the characters interact within.  The Thomas Newman score is also nice, if somewhat expected in its various rhythms being utilized.  Basically, the film is called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, so it is good that that sort of implied feeling comes off when watching the film.

So everyone’s favorite, Rex Reed, comes out and says that this movie is a classic and it reminds us that it is never too late to find love, in his review, which is quoted on the back of the box.  That is all well and good, but the movie still leaves plenty to be desired.  It is kind of charming and goes for a heartwarming approach, but it uses old forms of drama that are not handled in any significant way that makes the film excel.  Thankfully the cast is why people would want to see this movie and they deliver on continuing to be great actors, but the film as a whole did not do a whole lot for me.

Video:

The film looks very good on Blu-ray.  It is expected, but true.  This 1080p AVC-encoded transfer does a fine job of showing off a lot of the lush photography in this film, which establishes a great level of detail in the environments being shown.  It is a very bright and colorful film and while The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was shot on film, there is very little grain present.  Textures look great.  Darker scenes tend to work well enough, but are not as impressive as scenes taking place in lively, open areas.  It is a fine transfer overall though; good for what the film has to show off.

Audio:

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a really nice way to listen to this film, as you get a lot of scenes taking place on the streets of India and having numerous sources of sound help to immerse the viewer.  The mixing on this whole track is well done, as dialogue is always very clear in the midst of various bits of music and ambient sounds going on in the background.  To re-emphasize Thomas Newman’s work, the score for this film is nicely presented thanks to this track, which is something I did appreciate.

Extras:

For those who are big fans of the film, they may be disappointed that there is hardly anything here, as the behind the scenes material for this film adds up to less than 20 minutes.  A cast commentary would have been great, but I guess that idea did not blossom on this Blu-ray

Features Include:

Behind the Story: Lights, Colors and Smiles

Welcome to the “Real” Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Casting Legends

Trekking to India: “Life is Never the Same”

Tuk Tuk Travels

Trailers

Summary:

To be extremely fair, yes, this is a film that caters to an older crowd and I may not be the target demographic.  That said, I really like the actors that are in this movie and was disappointed to find that there was not more to this film.  It is a pretty standard comedy-drama that features great actors doing very solid work, but within the framework of a story that is not very good.  The film is well shot, which is reflected in the video quality of the Blu-ray.  The sound on this disc is also quite good.  However, the bonus section seems like a big failure, given that the film seemed to be so popular with audiences.  Check this one out if you need an excessively charming film that has little else to offer.

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
 He also co-hosts a podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Adventure for the elderly. LOL