Sleeper | The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
John Madden’s film is less bland than it looks.
The sort of exercise in cultural tourism that usually manages to be both offensive and bland, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is surprisingly involving—perhaps because it refuses to typecast its setting as an exotic diversion. Tom Wilkinson, as a magistrate who spent part of his youth in the subcontinent, already knows that India has much to teach him; he leads a strong cast (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy are stand-outs) of aging vacationers who travel from the U.K. to a run-down resort in Jaipur (operated by Dev Patel’s struggling but good-hearted manager). With the sights and sounds of the country doing much of the heavy lifting, John Madden’s film could have been commissioned by a travel bureau—but the attitude toward the country mostly seems kosher. And while the movie doesn’t avoid all of the obvious traps (e.g., Viagra jokes), it benefits from a leisurely pace and a lot of warmth. (Available on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray Tue 18.)