Evelyn Greenslade, played by Judi Dench in THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, is generous and open-hearted. She is ever ready for other people and open to India. On the day I was remembering her and reflecting on the film, I happened on one of Harold Bloom’s countless descriptions of Shakespeare: “largeness of temperament” — “grand generosity of spirit”. It seems to me not a stretch to apply these phrases to the impressive character created by Judi Dench in her most recent, and perhaps last, film foray.
Mrs. Donnelly ( Maggie Smith), another of the seven guests who because of circumstances in their lives end up in India, begins by being unwilling to be touched by any doctor of color though she needs medical attention. In India she comes to bonding with an untouchable.
The other characters, English and Indian, are lifelike. Not all of them change. Not all of them can. Most of them grow. We are almost half way through the movie year, and Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie is the best performance I have seen thus far.
There is a lot of talk, but THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is a visual feast. My collaborator BKG has said she could enjoy watching it without sound. A frequently handheld camera shocks us with India’s colors and close-packed bodies as our characters brush against a crowded world that often is as unexotic as their best exotic hotel, run by Slumdogger Dev Patel with consistency, believeability and touching humor.
Another happy aspect of this charming comedy romance is that when people talk, they tend to sit down and listen to each other. Conversation and exposition are not presented by people running up and down stairs and in and out of rooms and careening along the sidewalk competing with traffic and overhead planes. The dialogue is meant to be heard rather than obscured.
In a world in which movie screens are filled with characters whose fate never interests you, characters subjected to such violence that they become things, like the bodies in pornography, I invite you to spend two hours plus with a group of people you will care about, even the ones you might not like.
Coming Soon: 3 Treasures Found at Cinevent in Columbus, Ohio in May
Coming Soon: Abel Gance’s La Roue
NEXT POST June 14
See you at the movies,