I won’t recount the the plot of this British movie about seven old folks who retire to Jaipur, India. If you haven’t seen it, there are at least a million places online you where can find out about it.
It’s a surprise hit – well, surprise to Hollywood types who don’t believe movie goers want to see old people onscreen. But read this from Hilary, a woman so young – in her twenties – that she says actor Maggie Smith will never be anyone to her but Professor McGonagall:
”I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did – I think I assumed it would be boring…but I truly found it uplifting more than anything else.
“Of course, the Indian landscapes and scenes desperately made me want to travel, but more than that it made me want to experience, if that makes sense. It made me want to believe in possibilities again.
“As a twenty-something, I feel like possibility shouldn’t seem so far off. But it does, nowadays. Maybe it always did once you get to a certain age. I’m already locked into leases and contracts and payments. Already settled into something, though I didn’t realize I was doing so until now.
“All I can say about the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is that it will remind you of the way you plan to live, and the ways you should embrace that plan immediately.”
Doncha just wanna grab Hilary, give her a hug and say, You go, girl. In the space of half a dozen, short sentences, we learn of her doubts, her change of heart, her dreams, her disappointments, inklings of a possible truth, her circumstances and the rekindling of hope.
Who knows if she will act on her realizations, but she has a lot more to work with now after giving a bunch of old people in a movie she thought might be a bore a chance to inspire her.
The best fiction – print or film – has the power to transform us if we are open, as Hilary, to seeing beyond the literal plot and facile applause lines. Which is more than another blog reviewer, someone much older, bothered with:
“’Everything will be all right in the end, and if everything is not all right then this is not yet the end,’” the blogger quotes Sonny Kapur played by Dev Patel. “Words to live by,” writes the blogger. “Get up! Get out! Make the most of your day! Above all do something you love!”
THAT’s your bottom-line takeaway from the movie?? THAT’s what you want elders to know about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? For god’s sake. Nothing new there. First, the movie is better than that. Second, the character quoted is 22 years old and even he learns, thanks to Evelyn/Judi Dench, that he needs a lot more than his platitudinous drivel to get on with his life.
For those of you who have not seen Marigold, Evelyn becomes an elderblogger when she moves to Jaipur chronicling the experiences and transformations of her little gang of strangers in a strange land.
Old age isn’t easy. Among the satisfactions are the inevitable discontents, afflictions and sorrows. Acknowledging such toward the end of the movie and summing up a bit, Evelyn writes on her blog:
”The only real measure of success is how we cope with disappointment…We get up in the morning and do our best.”
That’s what I would like you to know from the film. That and what Hilary said.
ENDNOTE: Until someone takes it down, you can watch Marigold online here in English with subtitles of what looks like an eastern European language I can’t identify.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Herchel Newman: Change for a Twenty