George Bernard Shaw said once: ‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing’. Aging is a state of mind: a body tells different story than a mind. Old can be beautiful – you just have to look properly. Wrinkles are like written pages of a book. A book that was written by life. ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ is not a pure praise of aging. It’s rather a poem about its pros and cons, gleams and shadows. The director, Ol Parker, shows that even if we are too afraid of buying green bananas, we can still enjoy yellow ones.
‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ is a story of British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Unfortunately, its luxury was photoshopped. Its host Sonny (amazing Dev Patel) didn’t want to lie – he has presented a vision of his dreams. The run-down hotel seems to be a sad, dystopian place that was waiting for old guests as a symbol or vestibule of hell/purgatory. What’s important – Parker’s movie is not an epitaph, but a beautiful tale of love and strength of spirit. Our lonely, sad tourists slowly discover magic magic that is hidden in the nooks and crannies of their hotel. The destroyed, neglected building becomes a metaphor of their souls. What was dormant and resigned, now comes back to life.
Parker’s movie is not only a sweet tale of the power of human hearts, but also a beautiful story of meeting with the Other. ‘The Best…’ seems to be a charming, unimposing praise of tolerance. The director focuses on moments of breaking down cultural barriers. His movie is an unpretentious apotheosis of life and its diversity. What’s important – it’s neither pathetic nor mawkish. Parker not only presents India as a land of colours and friendly buzz (he deconstructs a stereotype of India as a dangerous, chaotic country of swindlers, tricksters and sharpers), but also makes a lot of fun of England and conservative superstitions of some of English people. ‘The Best…’ is full of brilliant, language and situational jokes and gags. It’s seems to be both – a grotesque and a touching parable of love that never comes too late. Even if the director is using cultural and narrative schemes and clichés, he is absolutely charming and engaging. Nevertheless, his movie wouldn’t be so witty and brilliant, if it wasn’t for the cast. All actors (young and older) find the golden mean between comedy and tragedy, irony and sweetness. It all makes ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ an important lesson of acceptance and joy. Long live life!