Movie Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon when I decided seeing a movie would be the perfect way to cure my low spirits. I had a plan, you see, and a guy was involved. He’d been out of town for a while and had missed out on a lot of the blockbusters that came out recently. Big movies, too, like The Avengers and Battleship.

I thought it would be easy to talk him into a movie with lots of big explosions. I had some desire to see what the fuss was about, a much greater desire to spend time with him, and I figured I should be able to get a free movie, and maybe even free popcorn out of the deal. I couldn’t go wrong. (What can I say? I’m a mercenary, and he knows it.)

As I rattled off a list of movie that had just hit theaters, I included The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I hardly expected it to capture his attention. My hopes of seeing it were low, although it had peaked my curiosity more than the others. Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy all in one movie? My three favorite older British stars, all in one film? I could hardly believe it. (Okay, I’ll admit it. They aren’t just my three favorite older British actors. They’re actually my three most favorite actors of all time. I have an old soul and I can’t help loving them.)

It turns out it was my lucky day: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was the only movie playing at the local, old-fashioned, one-screen theater that happened to be walking distance from my date’s apartment. It had stopped raining by the time we settled our plans, so the short trek would not be a problem.

Having heard my praise of the people portraying three of the main characters, you’re probably already assuming that I am going to be totally biased towards the film. You’re probably wondering why I had any hesitations about seeing the movie at all, how I wasn’t camped out for days, waiting to buy the first ticket available.

My problem is that I cannot stand anything too sweet. (I’ve always assumed the low tolerance is due to the fact that I’m so sweet already. Anything more in my vicinity is too much for even me to handle). The super sappy love stories are the ones I can’t sit through. I start gagging and have to go for a walk. And as I was on a date with someone whose company I enjoyed, abandoning the theater was not going to be a viable option. If I were going to go, I was going to be stuck. That’s a pretty decent risk.

Fortunately, I shouldn’t have bothered with worrying. The best part about the film was that it managed to be touching without being sticky sweet. They didn’t resort to gimmicks like kisses in the rain, and they didn’t try to trick you into believing in one-true-loves. Instead, every moment leaves you with more questions about what it means to love. At the end, you are left pondering the possibilities.

It is not the kind of movie trying to offer an easy answer. It’s a movie about life, and life has no easy answers.

It’s also a movie about aging. About aging with grace and aging without grace. It’s about what happens when you stop allowing yourself to change and stop allowing yourself to love and remembering how to love for the first time in a long time, even ever.

I’ve never looked forward to being “old.” My worst fear is being trapped, trapped in a body that no longer works, that is no longer a reflection of who I am. Trapped in a life that didn’t turn out as I had intended; trapped in a mind warped with age, no longer in touch with reality.

Growing old is a prospect that terrifies me so much that I would almost rather not have to face it at all. This movie made me see that it isn’t the act of aging that terrifies me, but rather the future unknown.

Not every movie has that kind of power.

But that doesn’t make it a movie that has something for everyone. There were no big explosions. There weren’t even any minor explosions. There weren’t any easy answers, and the loose ends of life weren’t tied up in a nice pink bow.

Not everyone will appreciate this movie, but those with the right amount of cynicism and humor in their hearts will appreciate it very much.

And in a last ditch effort to entice my peers to open their minds and give this movie a chance, I feel I should explain that Maggie Smith (among many other wonderful, notable roles) is Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies; Judi Dench (among many other wonderful, notable roles) is M in recent James Bond films; and Bill Nighy (among many other wonderful, notable roles) is Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. How could you go wrong?

(Originally published June 5, 2012 by Fiona W., Yahoo! Contributor Network)

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