India’s air has a sunset patina in “The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” making even the dust look desirable. Plus the men wear sparkles on special occasions which takes me back to the ‘70’s and disco, a happy, dancing time. When the movie finishes with a choreographed dance number Bollywood-style and all the unresolved lovers pair up riding off into the dawn doubled-up on scooters, I’m ready to book a ticket. Note: They rode into the dawn. They either danced the night away or….
The majority of characters are old – over 64. They are in romantic turmoil. They have sex. They worry about the future. They’re soaking up the sun – well covered up – before the sun sets, forever. They are presented as fully formed people, not doddering seniors, representations in themselves a breakthrough.
I liked the movie and the script was good enough for the veteran British actors to chew on although at moments there was a caseous quality when the plot aligned too neatly. Given the age of the cast members, I was sure someone was going to die.
The movie is full of one-line zingers but my favourite line came from Bill Nighy who said all it took to irritate his first wife was to fold a road map the wrong way. (Was he eavesdropping in the back seat of our car on road trips?) But the best moment came not from the movie but from the audience.
On our honeymoon in 1979, my husband and I went to see “Gone with the Wind” in an old movie-house in London, UK. The screen was massive and the theatre was full. Vendors strolled the aisles selling tea, coffee, and pastries – a novelty to North American me, accustomed to buying popcorn and soda at a concession in the lobby. There was a London buzz accenting the anticipation salted with expressions like “Feeling peckish?” or “Nipping off to the bog” and “Chocks away” when the velvet curtains parted and the MGM lion roared, signaling the start of the movie.
Then the moment – THE MOMENT – came when Rhett Butler makes his first appearance in the movie. Do you know it? The American actor, Clark Cable, played the character and exuded tomcat testosterone, leaning on the banister of the Twelve Oaks plantation, eyeing Scarlett O’Hara with uninhibited desire. It was at this moment the audience in the theatre sucked in their breath as though we were all one giant diaphragm and GASPED. Pheromones enveloped the room and husbands and boyfriends knew this was going to be a good night.
In “The 2nd best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, where the main characters have lines like the rays of sun radiating from their eyes and chins that wag without speaking, sex symbols have age spots, paunches, and old-man-chicken-legs. They also have history.
Enter, silver-haired Richard Gere. Feel the heat. And yes, the audience gasped.
It was a good night.