Friday, June 1, 2012
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL by Pamela Powell
Who wants to grow old? I guess I do because, as my older workout friend always tells me, the alternative isn't very attractive! Truly, we all fight aging with hair products, facial products, supplements, workout routines, etc. But the truth is we are all getting older. We just don't want to admit it. I know that what I see in the mirror is different than what I feel (I'm still 28, you know!) on the inside. In the movie, a group of British retirees who initially are strangers to each other, fight a noble fight against aging in a way that would be daunting to most of us. They don't want to be stuck away in a "bright little flat with an emergency call button in the corner" to use until their dying day. They are all looking for a way to live life to its fullest. Each retiree ends up at the dilapidated hotel called the Exotic Marigold in India.
We are introduced to the characters and their reasons for booking their retirement in Jaipur, India. In all honesty, I was afraid this was going to be a Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve movie which just had superficial snippets of people who were on the screen for a total of 10 minutes. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. From the beginning we can see each retiree's personality and watch them as they try to bond with one another or, in some cases, repel. The characters are all dealt the same hand by being in this run-down hotel with an enthusiastic but scattered young owner/manager. But with the same hand, they all deal with it differently and it affects them differently. We watch each of the retirees grow and learn about themselves, and not always for the better, but they do grow.
Let's face it, it would take a huge amount of courage to leave your home of 40 plus years and venture out into a new country whose culture is extremely different and into a land where you don't speak the language. This overwhelmingly different place, but beautiful in its own right, shows an aspect of India that isn't always conveyed on the screen. The people were caring and kind, the colors are vivid, and the energy electrifying. Each person from the widow to the retired judge, see the city of Jaipur a little differently and take from it what they need to not just cope or survive, but to thrive. They have all ventured out into this new world for a new life of some sort, proving that you're never too old to try new things.
The movie is definitely geared toward the 40+ population. Although there is a focus on the young Sonny played by Dev Patel and his love interest, the concepts and focus is definitely on the older people and coping with the aging process. For those of us in our 40's and/or those of us with aging parents, it was an enlightening film. My father recently died and had always wanted to retire in Panama...the country...and at the age of 86 he never made it there. I will always regret not supporting him in that decision to go. Everyone deserves to live the life they want, in the way they want to live it. And that, I think, is the lesson in this movie.
If you're over 40, go see this movie. If you have aging parents, go see this movie. If you live near your parents, take them to see it and treat them to the show. Buy them popcorn AND candy, for God's sake! And if they want to move to Germany to experience Octoberfest, then please encourage them to do so!