This will be the first of a couple of reviews I hope to write while on Holiday in France. Now I know this may sound slightly sad to some of you, but to me, the idea of typing in the sun of an evening seems rather civlisied to me, the review has come a bit later than planned due to me getting into some Bernard Cornwell books, and only just discovering this Wi-Fi hotspot. This film wasn’t on my ‘to watch’ list really, I’d heard of it, and it was something my Mum really wanted to watch, and so when she found out we could watch it while on the Ferry from Portsmouth, the decision was made, and I wasn’t going to pass up on a free film. The film is about a hotel in India which claims to be perfect for the ‘Elderly and Beautiful’, specifically the English with its apparent English feel and character
The film has a fantastically strong cast, including Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson (in order as per the image above) and a somewhat more recent star, Dev Patel, made famous for his role in the film Slumdog Millionaire. The film follows the various older characters, introducing them each in classic scenes many of the older generation could probably empathise with, varying from Judi Dench trying to work out her wireless from her Wi-Fi to Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy being shown properties with a panic button in case of a fall. They of course all end up seeing the advert for this wonderful sounding (and looking by the brochure) hotel, and all decide it’s for them. The film then continues with them getting to know each other on they journey to India, which doesn’t go quite as planned, to arriving at the hotel, only to find out it’s not quite what they were expecting, with the hotel only just habitable, lacking many common comforts, such as working phone lines, but with an incredibly enthusiastic and positive manager (Patel).
Throughout the film not only is Patel having to struggle against the hotel itself, due to its poor condition and lack of paying guests, but also his mother, who is both against his management of the hotel, claiming his life would be so much better if he were to come back with her to Delhi, and his choice of girlfriend, a lowly born girl working in a call centre. Each of the guests at the hotel have their own story to say, and as the viewer you see each of them grow (at their own rate) into their new environment, although some are a little more willing than others. Most of the characters get a joke or two, and the whole film had a positive vibe, even with the odd jab at bringing a tear to the viewer’s eye, as the harshness of reality comes crashing back down into their lives.
The film does a wonderful job of showing the difference in culture, both between the countries of England and India, as well as the differences due to the generation (Patel and his mother). With many beautiful scenes of the bustling city streets, children playing cricket in the road and the precarious rides through town on tut-tuts, it really captures the essence (one assumes since I’ve not actually been) of India, and especially how it would be seen from an older person’s perspective, slightly hostile due to its busy nature, never quiet and always someone wanting to sell you something.
If I had to pick out some negatives of the film, it would probably be the pace, which at times may have felt a little slow to some (although if that was the case, then the film probably isn’t for them in general), and the story was relatively predictable, with only one moment catching me off guard. While not necessarily a negative, there is some racism some may find offensive (although I would think you’d have to be of a very sensitive nature).
- Fantastic cast and acting
- Good number of laughs throughout
- Can be enjoyed by all the family (mine certainly were pleased they watched it)
- It may lack a little in the story department for some.
Should I watch it?
Well, that depends mainly on whether the concept appeals, if it does, then I don’t really see any reason why would shouldn’t see it, the cast do a great job of portraying people coming from a range of backgrounds, all being dumped in a foreign land, with customs which often seem bizarre and the storyline has enough there to keep you attentive. For me it was the individual performances which made the film, including Patel who I hadn’t seen much of before yet had a wonderful presence on screen, it’s a great example of a film showing it doesn’t need a head over heels storyine, with many twists and turns, it takes a simple concept, a group of people all stuck in the same situation trying to make the best of it, and does it wonderfully. Overall it’s a lovely family feel good film, a real showcase for British (mainly) acting.