It has been said that older women are more "review sensitive" when it comes to selecting a film than, say, most of the moviegoers who will be massing to see The Avengers this weekend. If that is the case, then The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel , which will be screening at about 27 locations, should pack 'em in. (The movie, which cost about $12 million to make, has already earned $70 million overseas.) Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco chronicle calls it "a rare reminder from movies that the grand emotions are not only for the young and the middle-aged. They're the sweetness and torment of life until the last light goes out." None of the reviews is an out-and-out rave, however. But the film's drawbacks, the critics generally maintain, are mostly counterbalanced by some astute direction and charming performances by actors such as Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, and Dev Patel, in a story about a group of English oldsters who are lured to India by the Photoshopped ad for a luxury hotel where they can comfortably retire -- only to discover that the hotel is not what they had imagined. It's a "comedy-drama saved by the casting bell," Michael Phillips remarks in the Chicago Tribune. " Likewise, Roger Ebert comments in the Chicago Sun-Times "Director John Madden ... has to juggle to keep his subplots in the air, but these actors are so distinctive, they do much of the work for him." Virtually all of the criticism of the movie is meted out to the screenwriters. "While the film's infrastructure may be creaky at times, not unlike the leaking faucets and crumbling rooms of the aging Marigold Hotel, its heart is solid gold," writes Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. And Stephen Holden concludes in The New York Times, "This is a programmatically feel-good movie whose tempered optimism and insistence that it's never too late to leave your comfort zone and explore new horizons stays mostly (but not always) on the safe side of sentimentality."

04/05/2012