THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox, 2011) D: John Madden, w/ Judi Dench, Bill Nighy. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NN Rating: NNNN
A deft touch on all fronts makes The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel an effortlessly charming mix of comedy, drama, romance and a bit of bedroom farce.
Five strangers and a married couple leave England for retirement living at the titular hotel in Jaipur, India. Each has an agenda: hip replacement, reconnecting with the past, husband-hunting and so on, but the hotel is a crumbling ruin, and to English sensibilities Jaipur is a riotous madhouse. Culture shock derails everyone's expectations and generates some remarkable unexpected events.
Judi Dench is immensely likeable as the central character, a new widow in need of a new life. Bill Nighy walks the line between sympathetic and annoying as a henpecked husband. Maggie Smith is utterly convincing as an embittered racist, and Dev Patel brings immense comic energy to his role as the hotel's overenthusiastic owner.
Director John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) makes Jaipur both beautiful and incomprehensible, thus adding to the movie's comedy and underlying seriousness.
The behind-the-scenes and cast docs run about three minutes each and are little more than promotional spots.
EXTRAS Making-of doc, cast doc. English, French, Spanish audio. English, Spanish subtitles.