Monday, 26 March 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel book vs film



Certainly hyped up recently, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel seems to be an aquired taste. My younger colleagues in the office simply loved it and thought it hilarious, but I should have taken note of my colleague who is nearer me in age who was left singularly unimpressed, before heading out on Saturday night to my local Vue cinema.


Films are rarely if ever as good as the book - and it probably didn't help that I finished the book on Saturday afternoon so it was fresh in my memory, but still, what on earth had they done to the storyline?

Okay it's still set in a hotel in Jaipur and the characters are roughly the same but they have swept aside the subtle back stories of each character and in some cases rewritten their story entirely. And not to the films advantage either! Without spoiling either the book or the film too much for you (though I fear I've already spoilt the film) leaving out the integral reason for each character being the way they are and allowing you more insight into the family dynamics they have left behind, means that the film is a slightly patronising, thin, rom-com that doesn't stretch the wonderful caste in any way and relies heavily on the obvious in terms of characters. Indians are portrayed as either headwaggling lower-caste extras from It Aint Half Hot Mum or highly educated and desparate to learn more about England (because let's face it England is so wonderful isn't it). And why is the hotel set up in the first place? This is an integral part of the book and isn't even covered in the film...

I can watch Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton until the cows come home and really it's only their wonderfully warm and real performances that elevate this film at all. It is beautifully shot but it certainly aint no Monsoon Wedding.

Read The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel if you want a great story and characters that engage and that you will actually care about. If you don't read the book then wait for the film on DVD or Sky is my advice. Beautifully shot but a bit of a missed opportunity alround really...

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