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Muriel Donnelly (Smith), a retired domestic, is going to India for a hip replacement surgery which is the only place where she can afford one.Madge Hardcastle (Imrie) is out to find herself a rich husband who can support her needs.Each character gets at least a few scenes to shine in; most remarkable are Dench, Wilkinson, Nighy, Smith and Wilton. Dench does a voiceover (which is the vocalization of the blog she’s writing) that is actually non-intrusive and well-written rather than a lot of Hollywood voice-overs which tend to be the writers showing off how well they can turn a phrase.Wilkinson and Nighy are two of the most consistent actors in Hollywood; Nighy often gets parts that are kind of far-out, but here his character is a decent man, worn down from years of living with a shrew.The hotel that they arrive at is far from what the advertisements claimed; it is ramshackle, without working phones and is old, decrepit and in need of much repair.
Their interest is that the Hotel is inexpensive enough that they can all afford to live, as they all (with a couple of exceptions) have some sort of financial difficulty.
Wilkinson’s characters tend to run the gamut from amoral executives to care-worn fathers but here he is a lonely man, haunted by his past and the repercussions of his decision not to protest an obvious injustice.
The inner decency of Graham shows through at every moment; he’s a judge that I would want hearing my case, a man who wins the respect of pretty much all of his compatriots. It allows Indian culture to shine through without over-romanticizing it; you get the sense of the drawbacks of Indian culture as well (the congestion, the poor infrastructure and yes, the smell).
However it counterbalances that nicely with the overall accepting nature of the Indian people, the beauty of the temples, palaces and countryside and yes, the people themselves – Patel and Desae make a magnificent couple.
I went in expecting to like this movie but not to love it but I wound up appreciating every moment of it.
She needs the work in order to afford to live at the hotel.