For Reel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
June 28, 2012, 7:09 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Madden

It was an amusing coincidence that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel served as counter-programming for the box office colossus that was The Avengers. The pacing of each film is nearly identical in their developing moments, introducing a number of major stars before bringing them together as a collective spectacle. What appealed to people about the Marvel franchise had much to do not only with the characterizations of the various heroes but with Joss Whedon’s wry sarcasm, however none of such pleasant surprises are to be found in John Madden’s directorial effort. Once the joy of seeing Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, and Maggie Smith occupying the frame together has worn off, one is left with a relatively witless, entirely-too-safe drama, with each emotional note not only predictable but nauseatingly overplayed. A ham-handed line of dialogue and the wildly misjudged symbolism of a bird in flight brings more sighs than genuine tears in the picture’s most sobering juncture. The locale, though well-shot, narratively serves only to reflect the basest of tourist curiosities – the general “oohs” and “aahs” and the unspecific notions about how being in a new place will inevitably prove enlightening. While it earns its laughs here and there (Maggie Smith is particularly delightful, and Bill Nighy is quaint and charming after a series of more treacherous performances in American films), the picture can’t ever quite overcome the fact that it doesn’t contain a genuine moment.

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