It was with great anticipation, then, that I began viewing the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (what a wonderful name! - 2011), which takes outsourcing a step further – outsourcing people, or more precisely, retirees, from England to India. A disparate group of retirees are enticed for various reasons – saving on expenses, trying something new – by an advertisement placed by a young Indian would-be entrepreneur to spend their retirement in the once splendid Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful which he inherited from his father. The hotel, of course, is far from the image displayed in the brochure and in addition to the luggage they bring along with them, they all arrive with a load of psychological baggage. Over the months, they gradually shed some of the latter and, in the process, learn more about themselves and what they want from life.
The movie does actually begin with a typical outsourcing situation, in which an older woman, a recent widow Evelyn (Judi Dench) tries, in vain, to get technical support for her computer, which is in her late husband's name. Ironically, in India, she finds work in a call center as a "cultural consultant," training the staff how to approach and talk to older citizens.
Judi Dench is not the only actor of note in the film. What a cast of characters! Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, and other acclaimed British actors. As a lover of Indian literature, movies set in India and British dramas, this movie is tailored to my tastes.
And did it live up to my expectations? While highly enjoyable, it is a little flawed, the main problem being that the storyline is somewhat pat. But who cares. We want and expect it to have the ending that it does. And although the film lacks the "je ne sais quoi" that would make it a great film, again who cares. With its cast, setting and inimitable British humor, the film brings a smile to our faces and a renewed appreciation of British drama and actors.