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"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel": Retirees Find Solace in India 

Wednesday, May 2 2012

The British have practically cornered the multiplex's senior demo (think Waking Ned Devine and Calendar Girls) and look to be continuing the run with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a recent hit with the U.K.'s aging boomer set, now stateside. Reliable middlebrow craftsman John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) makes neat work of Deborah Moggach's novel about a group of disparate British retirees lured — for cut-rate surgery, low-overhead living, or reasons they hope to keep private — to the Indian subcontinent, where they find themselves together under the roof of the titular hotel. The cast is led by Dame Judi Dench as a long-sheltered widow looking to stand on her own two feet. Marigold Hotel has that oh-so-tactful British touch, the seeming result of an industry-wide gentleman's agreement never to go too far. The material is ribald but, of course, never crude and sewn with "Life begins at 60" affirmations; the plot twists are about as venerable as the cast and predictably affecting when performed with such old-hand proficiency. Although the film is overextended by a few plotlines too many, you'll look forward to Tom Wilkinson's turn as a retired high court judge who still goes fluttery over the memory of an affair from schoolboy days and Bill Nighy as a shy, ineffably decent man, quietly surprised by how nimble he becomes in this new atmosphere.

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Nick Pinkerton


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