quarta-feira, 4 de setembro de 2013


I wanted to see a film that was warm-hearted. Having watched a small procession of them that were cold as ice—Steve McQueen’s “Shame” was the last one—I wanted a film that opened a door in the blizzard and showed me a glowing hearth, a big smile and a mug of cocoa before bedtime. Really what I wanted, as I realise now, was “The Artist”. “The Artist” is delightful. It inspires an audience’s love. But somehow or other I missed it when it was screened at the festivals, so instead I went to see “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, which is directed by John Madden and flaunts several of Britain’s finest actors, or at least those of pensionable age. Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith: a heart-warming ensemble if ever there was one, even if Bill Nighy can never be shaken from his trademark habit of looking as though he’s left himself somewhere else. (“Have you seen me? I’m sure I was here a minute ago. Yeah?”)


Nor was the cast the only promising thing. This is a film about old people getting older, and though there’s a small genre of such films, recently joined by “The Iron Lady”, the theme is still rare enough to mark them out as brave in a cinematic culture that thinks of 18-year-olds as middle-aged. To talk of target audiences is too confining, as though only mad old men could appreciate “King Lear”, but as I’m younger than Ronald Pickup and not quite as young as Tom Wilkinson, it did seem that if “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” had a demographic I might fit it rather neatly. Also, most of the film is set in India, a country where I’ve often worked and which I once imagined as a permanent home, a place to live and die in. Some of the English characters in Madden’s film imagine the same, as retirees who are “outsourcing” themselves to cheaper accommodation and more reliable sunshine. “Just like the coast of Florida?” asks Nighy’s golfing partner in England. Yeah, says Nighy languidly, “but with more elephants.”

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