Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Somewhat Less than the Exotic Promised

Just finished watching The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and frankly the film was a wash.  I saw the first, felt it was a somewhat middling film saved by the incorporated elements of Rajasthan, India, the management of same by a group of elderly and the interesting opportunities they were able to find in a culture that does not seek to discard the aged.

The second film offers nothing new.  Characters past 60 years of age, and in some case past 75 years of age, are pressed into speaking lines more suitable for a teen we-don't-know-what-to-do-because-we're-stupid-and-young drama than for adults who, in some cases remember the Second World War.

Pitifully, the two most interesting characters were kept apart for nearly the entire film; perhaps Bill Nighy and Judy Dench have taken an extreme dislike to each other and preferred not to be on film together.  As such, we wait and watch two likeable people wait and wait and wait through three quarters of the film while speaking lines that - frankly - I find it hard to believe someone in their late 70's could say with a straight face.  At one point, the self-declared 79-year-old Judy Dench declares she needs more 'time' to decide if she wants to pursue the relationship.

We could have had a film where two experienced people, with a lifetime behind them, engaged in a series of meaningful, elaborate dialogues where matters of importance were discussed against the backdrop of their inevitable demise, as they sort out the pursuit of happiness where all other pursuits steadily pale.  As someone who is 51, I am already strongly feeling the inevitability of things that I know I will never truly do again, which even in small part will have to be abandoned as my body ages towards its crumbling limitations.  In aging, we all make little sacrifices along the way, pursuing sports with less enthusiasm and more care, pursuing business with an eye on the exit door, pursuing affairs with the understanding that we're probably not going to live to see our fiftieth anniversary.  It's a very real part of life, one that everyone experiences as they near sixty, seventy, eighty and ninety years of age, in progressive degrees.

For all the hype that a film gets for casting brilliant stars in their later years, it is a shame that the characters they are forced to play are undoubtedly less interesting than the struggles of the actors themselves, pushing to rush down a street in India over a series of months in order to bring together a film that - let's be honest - any one of which may not have been lucky enough to finish.  The least it could do, I should hope, would be to direct itself towards the relevant matter at hand - but alas, this was not to be.

It's a cute little snore of a film.  Like hundreds of other cute little snores of films that do not star the royalty of British drama.

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