The idea is not new. In 1932, the applied Hollywood producer Edmund Goulding related in 'Gran Hotel' the stories of several characters housed in a luxurious Hotel. Beyond the established stories, what really mattered was the notoriety of the chosen actors, on whom fell the dramatic (and commercial) effectiveness of the proposal: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Carwford, Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery. In 'The Exotic Hotel Marygold', eighty years later, the same criterion is repeated, changing the sophisticated American hotel to a ramshackle but charming hotel in the Indian city of Bangalore, the fifth most populated city in the country - what in the film in a way or another we can not remember, and turning into authentic stars of the show a handful of veterans and notable British actors: Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Celia Imrie.
Here would end the direct comparisons between a classic Hollywood film and a British film with a Bollywood accent, which is the concept of any Anglo-Saxon production when it comes to Indian lands (see 'Slumdog Millionaire', the Oscar-winning film by Danny Boyle from which 'The exotic Marygold hotel' inherits its main actor, the contestant Dev Patel). But the formula is very similar: several characters, a central scenario in which all appear communicated, fragmented stories, tragic accent and some comic touch ...
What leads each of the protagonists to settle down in the least exotic of the Bangalore hotels is quite inconsistent, but that is only the starting point. John Madden, director who meets again some of his usual actors (Dench and Wilkinson), is interested in what happens from the moment in which the characters, some belonging to the third age, others in the last phase of maturity They arrive in a city that fascinates, worries and irritates them in equal parts, and as India in general and the hotel in particular influences their future experiences and decisions.
As in every choral story, from 'The Seven Samurai' to 'Alien, the 8th Passenger', from 'The Stagecoach' to 'Calabuch' - and Madden's film, as 'Grand Hotel', is choral - some characters have more force than others either because of the greater conviction of their interpreters or because the script places them in more privileged positions. Both coincide in the stories of Dench and Wilkinson, the emotional overcoming of her and the reunion with his youthful love; two experiences and two interpretations that are without problems to those of the rest of the stories and performances of the film.
In favor: the work of all the actors, especially Dench and Wilkinson, because they are the best and because their characters have more scope.
Against: the tourist tone, the hangover of Bollywood, the actor of 'Slumdog Millionaire'.