There are other retirees on hand: Ronald Pickup is irascible as a youth-obsessed lothario who sees India as a place to live in denial about his age, and Celia Imrie is fetching as flirty Madge, who has run through all the wealthy men she knows in England and now sees India as a fresh field of opportunities.
Desperately trying to keep this disparate group happy is the Marigold Hotel’s owner, Sonny, portrayed with sometimes unnerving energy by Dev Patel, the heart and soul of the Oscar-winning crowd pleaser Slumdog Millionaire. That Patel wins the audience’s affection is a tribute to his remarkable appeal — after all, he plays a guy who lured a bunch of old people halfway around the world under false pretenses.
One wonders, of course, at precisely what point these people decided that moving to India for the rest of their lives would be a good idea. Too bad they don’t read AARP the Magazine — a recent article suggested places like Belize, Spain and Portugal. But India? Not so much.
Ah, but all that matters not. Director John Madden makes it clear from the start that, when the last loose chunk of plaster has fallen and the residents have finally come to terms with curry, everyone is going to feel pretty good about where they’ve ended up. And we’re happy, too, to have spent time in the company of some engaging folks, in a world that’s dizzyingly — and fascinatingly — different from ours.
You may also like: Bill Newcott's blog post on Marigold.