The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A two hour vacation from real life crap

with 17 comments

Halfway through my expected lifespan, I’ve come to terms with the fact that life inevitably contains a bit of misery.

Everybody has some crap going on. The broken relationships, the dreams that shattered and the small decisions that led to a one-way road in the wrong direction. Someone turns out to be an alcoholic, someone near you tries to kill herself, a painful divorce appears out of nowhere.

Sadness, illness, death and despair. Sooner or later we all run into it, one thing or another.

A little bit of misery is a part of the deal and if you haven’t seen it yet, you will, trust me.

Two hour vacation
But some people get more than the average share of crap. They seem to be cursed, magnets of misfortune. I have a friend like that, who desperately needed a vacation from her life. If I had been wealthy I would have hijacked her, telling her to pack her toothbrush, taking her to a far distant place, releasing her from the responsibilities. Instead I took her to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

It wasn’t the two weeks on a paradise island that she might have needed; it was two hours on a shabby hotel. But hey, you take what you can get. Her weightless laughter throughout the movie, the relaxed expression on her face as the lights went up, telling me that she had been elsewhere, reminded me of one of the things I love so much about going to movies. They give us instant relief. They take us to places. They allow us to forget.

If I was grumpy and put on my high brow face expression, I could point out that the plot about this bunch of retired Brits going to India for various reasons where they grow and reach insights and (mostly) end up better than before they went, is a bit predictable, bland and cheesy. There are stereotypes. While I too laughed quite a few times, not all jokes worked for me. Some of it felt as old as the actors.

But you know what? Sometimes you need to just tell your inner film snob to sod off.  Because this is another of the things you learn as you get older.

There is a place for backpack travelling to far distant places with no comfort at all where nobody else has been. But sometimes you’re at a point in your life when you’re better off with a charter trip to somewhere where the water is clear and warm, the beach is endless, the food is decent and the beds are nice. Even if it’s utterly, utterly uncool.

So: sod off, the snob in me!

I enjoyed our two hour charter trip to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I enjoyed it because it gave me an injection of color, warmth, light and hope. I enjoyed it because of the wonderful cast of British veteran actors. I enjoyed it because I was charmed.

Love Geriatically
A user at IMDb called it “Love Geriatically” and apologize it for sounding cynic. I think the label is pretty good though. There are those multiple storylines, there’s the mix of comedy, romance and drama and it all ends pretty well, or at least as good as it gets. What makes it different to other films in this genre is the average age of the actors, which is way higher than the normal. Off-putting? No, rather refreshing.

The movie is full of the kind of life wisdom one-liners you used to find on postcards and magnets that my mother-in-law puts on her refrigerator.

One of the statement got sticky, and no wonder, since it’s repeated over and over again by Sonny, the young and enthusiastic Indian who tries to run the hotel despite bad odds:

“Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not the end.”

To be honest, this isn’t exactly eloquent standing on its own. I’d rather say it’s clumsy, shallow and pointless. But somehow it worked at this time, in this movie, and as we shared a bottle of wine, making an update on the last miserable events, we couldn’t refrain from quoting it with a wry smile.

Life can and will get better. Misery is just a part of the deal. Getting older isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There might be a Marigold Hotel waiting for us somewhere, at some point.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, UK, 2011) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

May 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

17 Responses

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  1. I love movies that you can enjoy whether they’re good or not just because they allowed you to escape and you have pleasant memories of them. There are a few moves like that for me. Two big ones are Stranger than Paradise and Delicatessen; not widely loved by many, but they’re among my top favourites of all time. I can watch them over and over and never get tired of them, because dammit I think they’re fun, and I have pleasant memories of watching them alone, or with friends. Those experiences are the ones I really love, and it’s great to be able to have them with any kind of film, whether good or bad. At least I know, when I’m feeling down, I have these movies to turn to to cheer me. Sounds to me like for you or for your friend, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was one of these movies.

    Tyler

    May 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

    • I’ve seen both! I have no memory whatsoever of Stranger than Paradise, more than that I liked it once upon a time. Delicatessen stays a bit stronger with me and I’d certainly like to rewatch it.

      I mostly watch movies on my own, but it’s nice to share the experience with a friend once in a while. If the company you’re in likes a movie I think it’s kind of contagious.

      Jessica

      May 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  2. Movies are a great escape, that’s for sure. I haven’t seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sorry to hear you are going through a rough patch there. In my experience, you don’t know someone deep down until you have been through a difficult spell with them. Hoping things improve for you soon! ( :

    Chris

    May 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    • Oh, I’m sorry if I was unclear. It’s not me going through a rough time (not more than usual I mean, we all have our ups and downs) – it’s my friend. I was delighted to see her so delighted by this movie. But it certainly was enjoyable for both of us.

      Jessica

      May 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      • When I say “you”, I kind of implied both of you ( : I know it was your friend, that’s what I meant by knowing someone deep down. And I guess when a friend suffers, then you yourself suffer a little with them too.

        Chris

        May 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm

        • Then we’re on the same page. Yeah. It does affect me quite a bit. And it’s not as if it’s likely to be going away anywhere soon. I don’t feel that I have the right to share her story here, but it’s something that I wish no parent anywhere to ever have to experience. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

          Jessica

          May 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

  3. Lovely.

    Nick

    May 18, 2012 at 1:13 am

  4. Movie escapism — the best kind? Glad you came around watching it and manged to get your inner snob to sod off. Perhaps it’s time to create a new genre — we have dick flicks, chick flicks and now geriatric flicks 😉

    Sofia

    May 18, 2012 at 9:11 am

    • I honestly think there’s a huge and somewhat untapped market there. The people who are approaching age of retirement now are used to go to theatres and have time and money to spend on it. It will be interesting to see how well this movie makes in the theatres and if it will inspire more to go for an older cast in order to attract seniors.

      Jessica

      May 18, 2012 at 9:19 am

  5. In love with this post, Jessica. Just beautiful. I agree that sometimes we have to tell our internal (or not so internal) film snob to “sod off”!

    fernandorafael

    May 21, 2012 at 12:26 am

  6. I saw it yesterday and I really liked it. Sure, it’s a feel good movie and fairly predictable but I wasn’t bothered by that. The characters feel real and at the end of the movie I wouldn’t mind spending a holiday in that hotel.

    carrandas

    August 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s a movie I wouldn’t mind watching again. Would be a perfect companion for an airplane trip, wouldn’t it?

      Jessica

      August 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm

  7. […] Buckle’s Film EmporiumThe Velvet CaféThe Movie Review […]

  8. […] The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – or “Love geriatrically” as someone called it, which is pretty much spot on. It was easily digested and had a lovely cast of the elite among British actors […]


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