The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ★★★★
An all-star cast of what we shall delicately call the over-50s assembles for this sharp-tongued adaptation of a Deborah Moggach novel. Dame Maggie Smith plays an ex-housekeeper waiting for a new hip and Penelope Wilton an unhappily married near-agoraphobic who sign up for a far-flung dotage at a dilapidated retirement hotel in India. Another dame, Judi Dench, is hoping to move on after the passing of her husband. Tom Wilkinson is a retired judge revisiting the country where he once lived. Bill Nighy is Wilton’s more outgoing husband, while Celia Imrie is on the run from her family and Ronald Pickup is the group’s Mr Lover Man. Meanwhile, Dev Patel’s hotel’s manager is a dervish of optimistic blather. It’s as much a learning-curve adventure for us as for these British visitors, and though the word “colourful” is often glibly applied to foreign cultures, Shakespeare in Love director John Madden and cinematographer Ben Davis drink in the Rajasthan locations with a visitor’s awe, and less photogenic issues like the caste system are addressed. Greeted in 2012 as though no film about older people had ever been made, Exotic Marigold nonetheless feels free of cynicism.
For more of today’s free-to-air films, see our TV listings