'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Image from tvguide.com
Throw a whole bunch of seemingly similar people together into a similar situation and then use them to tease out and analyse the different ways, useful or unhelpful, of reacting to disappointment.

I enjoyed watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel recently.  There are sterling performances from people who I have come to value so much for their other, consistent, sterling performances:  Penelope Winton, Bill Nighy, Dame Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Celia Imrie, with relative newcomers Tena Desae and Dev Patel.

I always think it's a bit of a cop-out to resort to voice-over for the-book-of-the-movie, and some of the script was a little obvious or cliché*.  But that aside I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery, pace, direction, and the development of the characters as they react and adapt (or not) in their own ways to India, and what life offers them.
Although the theme was ostensibly one of retirement, I felt it was actually about adaption to change, a theme that is worth revisiting at any stage of our lives.

The last words of this movie:

"The only real failure is the failure to try.  And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we always must.  Can we be blamed for feeling that we're too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again?  We get up in the morning, and we do our best.  Nothing else matters.

But it's also true that the person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing.

All we know about the future is that it will be different.  Perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same.  So we celebrate the changes, because as someone once said; 'everything will be alright in the end.  And if it's not alright, it isn't the end.'"

I've made this sound depressing.  It is not.  It's vibrant, colourful, optimistic and - a well-worn movie description - uplifting.  It seems to me a very good sort of movie to watch at the start of a new calendar.

* Clichés, like proverbs, are often revisited frequently because they are so often true.


  1. An excellent movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw it (on the plane coming here) I thought about the saying you quoted 'Everything will be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, it isn't the end.' I remembered that some years ago I had heard that saying and tried to find its origin. My notes tell me that was over 5 years ago. Now I'm wondering all over again - even Google isn't helping at the moment.

  2. It was a lovely sweet movie....thin...but sweet

  3. I enjoyed it too.

  4. I enjoyed the movie too. What a cast! The movie was based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, which was published some 7 - 8 years ago and that could be the source of the quotation. (After the success of the film the book was reprinted with the title of the film.)

  5. Okay I admit I used "uplifting" in my "Life of Pi" mini-review... Glad you enjoyed "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". Britain is certainly blessed with some mighty fine film actors - not least Yorkshirewoman Judi Dench - so many varied roles.

  6. Geeb... "everything will be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, it isn't the end." is said by the Dev Patel character in the movie, and, presumably in the book too. The Judi Dench voiceover repeats it at the end, because he'd said it to her.

    John - yeees, maybe thin. Sweet's good. Nothing wrong with sweet in a world that seems to be drenched in cynicism...

    Helsie - me too.

    Judith - thanks for that info. Indeed, brilliant cast.

    YP. Uplifting's good. Nothing wrong with uplifting. I was particularly pleased to see Penelope Winton in another (Downton Abbey) not-so-lovable character. I think she's great.

    1. Yes I knew the quotes from the movie but I also knew the quotes from long before that and couldn't find their origin. What I hadn't realised was that there was a book pre-dating the movie by about 8 years. It still doesn't explain to me though why, about 5 years ago, I was trying to find the origin of the quote.

  7. Dame Judi Dench is one of my favourite actresses. She is never anything less than excellent and entertaining! Other good names in there, too, of course, so maybe I'll look out for it ... but on the other hand, with your description of cop-out voice-overs, maybe I should try the book?

  8. Hi there Jay. The voice-ever thing is just my own grizzle. Like finding the end of a great book explains everything by "... and then he woke up".
    It (voice-over) works fine in 'My House in Umbria' because the 'I' is a bit kooky and the book is 'written' by her.
    It also works fine in 'Adaptation' because, well, it's NOT supposed to be used and the screen-writer was one of the heroes.
    It also works ok-ish in LOTR, and is probably needed for back-story at the beginning of The Hobbit.
    I just felt it was a little over-used in TBM Hotel.

    I haven't read the book. Books're usually better than the film.

    Wishing you a healthy and happy 2013, by the way :-)

    Oh look, I just did a post in my comment box.

  9. I really liked the book and can recommend it (in fact I recommend any of Moggach's books.) But it is significantly different to the film, darker and more complex.


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