Normally on a Saturday I watch a film to review, recently it's been the Lord of the Rings trilogy but as I spent last Saturday making Welsh cakes I didn't squeeze in The Return of the King, so I figured I'd review the film I watched while I was in Wales. And as it's based on a book, I'll review that at the same time and kill two birds with one blog post. P.S. Mum, if you've not read the book yet, you might not want to read this post. There'll be spoilers!
I've had The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach on my bookcase for quite a
while. I was so desperate to read it that I actually picked up the film cover
edition of the book in a charity shop (I normally avoid those ones, just in case
people think I'm just reading the book because of the film, because I'm a snob
Previously published under the title These Foolish Things, the book
follows a group of British pensioners, each with personal struggles from Muriel
who is stuck in a hospital waiting for treatment for days, to Evelyn who is
suddenly alone and broke, to Norman who doesn't realise just what a burden he is
on his family. A couple of cousins come up with an idea to help ship them off to
India to a low cost care home there, and so not only do the group of elderly
characters collide, but so do two entirely different continents.
As I said, I had this on my bookshelf for quite a while but my opportunity to
read it came when I needed to find a book for the Reading Challenge which was
set in a country I'd always wanted to visit. I had plenty of choices of
countries and I'll admit my top choice probably would've been New Zealand or
Canada, but I didn't know if I had any books in my collection set in one of
those countries, so I decided to work with what I had. India is one of those
countries that fascinates me, so The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ticked
Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down. I started it on the 24th of
July and finished it on the 27th, that included a couple of times where I read
late into the night because I just didn't want to put it down. It's a fairly
gentle kind of story, it builds up gradually. You're introduced to the
characters one by one and then each strand joins together to weave the main
story. It's a clever way of telling the story because even though there are
people you might not care for, you can't wait to see what the other characters
make of them.
Obviously this storytelling technique meant that I developed favourite
characters. My favourites were Evelyn, Dorothy and Douglas. At first Norman made
me cringe but he really grew on me as I went on. I ended up feeling really sorry
for him as the book went on.
Given the subject matter, elderly people living in a retirement home, I
suppose I shouldn't have been shocked by the fact that people died in the story.
But I was surprised. Or rather, the people who died took me by surprise. I
thought that all the people in the story would get their happily ever afters in
India and that just wasn't the case. Especially Norman, poor, poor Norman.
As my copy had the film poster on the front cover I couldn't help but try and
imagine who would be played by whom in the film. I got Judi Dench as Evelyn
right, but I think I was wrong for most of the others. Norman struck me as the
type who would be best suited to be played by Bill Nighy; I was imagining him as
the sort of character he played in Love Actually with hints of his character
from The Boat That Rocked. In the film Nighy actually plays Douglas. And the
fantastic Maggie Smith played Muriel; I'd imagined her playing Dorothy (who
wasn't even in the film at all).
I guessed that there would be changes between the book and the film. It was
obvious from the fact that the hotel in the book is run by a fifty-year-old man
when from the trailers I knew he was being played by the
definitely-not-fifty-year-old Dev Patel. But there were quite a few things that
Some I was expecting. The book has quite a slow build-up. I think the book is
about a third of the way through before the OAPs start moving to the hotel,
whereas that's glossed over quite quickly within the first few minutes of the
film. Dorothy and Graham are merged into the one character and there's a romance
for the younger viewers as well. Others came as a surprise to me. I was waiting
for Norman to kick the bucket and then Graham hit it instead. Jean was a bit of
a cow right from the very start, instead of half of an adventurous couple.
Despite it being a different sort of film to what I might have expected from
the book. I still loved it. The different storytelling medium just meant that
some things had to be changed. The changes made sense and I very quickly got
absorbed into the story. You wound up routing for the characters, for the
couples, for the hotel.
The way it was filmed was beautiful as well. There were times when you just
wanted to pause the film and look at it like a pretty picture. I've only seen it
the once and I've not seen the second yet, though as Mr Click is yet to see both
of them, I suspect we'll be getting them on DVD soon.
Yes, it was different from the book, but it was funny and clever and
touching. When certain characters hugged or looked at each other it gave me
those little butterflies in my stomach which I get when I care about the
characters. I laughed A LOT while I was watching it. I didn't even do any
colouring in while we were watching it.
So I would recommend both the book and the film. I'd suggest you read the
book first, because that's the way that these things should be done, but see the
film too. It's the same, but different, and so, so good.