A two hour vacation from real life crap
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.
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