Top 5... - June 29, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (and five of the best films about finding love in later life)
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor,

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (and five of the best films about finding love in later life)

At first glance, John Madden's 2011 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel would be an unlikely bet for a box office success story. On paper, the film's plot about two elderly couples who arrive at a hotel in India - only to find that its billing as 'luxurious' has been somewhat overstated – was hardly going to set any pulses racing. However, thanks to some brilliant scriptwriting and a talented cast that includes Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel, the film soon charmed its way into the hearts and minds of audiences glad to be presented with something rare and refreshing; a rom-com for the older generation.

Overcoming a lukewarm opening weekend at cinemas to grow steadily into a slow-burning, word-of-mouth hit, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel received glowing reviews from critics for its heartwarming but realistic depiction of romance for the over 60s. So what do you do when you have a surprise hit on your hands? Well, you make a sequel of course.

Arriving on DVD and Blu-Ray this week (June 29th) comes the follow-up to Madden's 2011 film, bearing the imaginative title of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and along with it comes most of the cast from the first film, including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel and Maggie Smith, but with some quality additions in the form of Tamsin Grieg and Richard Gere, the latter playing a new arrival at the hotel who soon finds himself the subject of some amorous attention from a few of the hotel's friskier female residents.

The main story however once again revolves around the ambitions of the hotel's owner Sonny Kapoor (Patel), who plans to expand his empire by opening a second hotel. Evelyn and Douglas, played by Dench and Nighy respectively, are beginning to wonder if their regular dates for Chilla pancakes are going anywhere, while Madge (Celia Imrie) is juggling two wealthy lovers and has her eye on a third.

Those who enjoyed the first film will probably find plenty to enjoy about its follow-up and you can find the trailer for the new film below. For those looking for a different slant on elderly romance however, we've picked five other films about finding love in later life...

As Good as it Gets

Jack Nicholson is at his brilliant best in this 1997 film from James L. Brooks. Playing a misanthropic, ageing author named Melvin Udall, Nicholson is as mean, cantankerous and sarcastic as you've ever seen him, but that doesn't stop waitress Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) from falling for his dubious charms, in spite of her severe dislike for the man. Also starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Greg Kinnear, who plays Melvin's long-suffering gay neighbour Simon, As Good as it Gets isn't your typical romantic comedy, but it's all the better for it.


Hope Springs

We could have populated this list entirely with films starring either Jack Nicholson or Meryl Streep, with the latter in particular having starred in a number of rom-coms about ageing characters, including the Abba-based musical Mamma Mia! and the more recent It's Complicated alongside Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. In the end though we had to pick this film by David Frankel, starring Streep and a brilliantly miserable Tommy Lee Jones as married couple Kay and Arnold who, after 30 years of matrimony have left their relationship a little stale, decide to attend a week-long intensive counselling session to try and rekindle the spark in their romance. Or, rather, Kay decides and Arnold begrudgingly agrees, which is the source of most of the laughs in this gentle comedy.


Harold and Maude

Hal Ashby's odd film starring Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon took a long time to develop the reputation it enjoys now and was a total flop - both commercially and critically - when it was first released in 1971. However, slowly but surely the film began to develop a cult following and it was a full 12 years before Harold and Maude made any kind of profit. Cort stars as Harold, a socially awkward young man living a sheltered but prescribed life at the hands of his overbearing mother when he meets Maude, a 79 year old woman whom he develops a friendship and then a romantic relationship with, and who teaches him the value of living life to the fullest.

Even though it's been more than four decades since the film's release, relationships with an age gap this large are still so far out of social norms as to be considered taboo, but Ashby's film handles the subject delicately and brilliantly.



Esio Trot

This made-for-TV movie adapted from the classic Roald Dahl book of the same name made quite a splash when it first aired on the BBC as part of last year's Christmas holiday schedule, largely thanks to the superb performances of Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench. Appearing as Mr. Hoppy and Mrs. Silver, two elderly neighbours in a block of flats, Esio Trot centres around the attempts of the shy and retiring Mr. Hoppy to get his outgoing neighbour Mrs. Silver to notice him – oblivious to the fact that she already fancies him.

When she complains that her much-loved tortoise Alfie is growing too slowly, Mr. Hoppy hatches an elaborate plan to convince her that he can make her tortoise grow faster, thereby winning her affections. Brilliantly adapted from Dahl's book by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, Esio Trot is directed by Dearbhla Walsh, the film also features narration throughout from James Corden.



Away From Her

As if to prove that not all films about love in later life have a Richard Curtis-esque happy ending, the last film on our list is a real heartbreaker. Directed by Canadian actor-director Sarah Polley, Away From Her is based on a short story by Alice Munro starring Gregory Pinsent and Julie Christie. Playing a retired couple named Grant and Fiona, the film deals with the effects of Alzheimer's disease and when Fiona's memory loss begins to reach a point where she considers herself a danger to herself, she checks herself into a nursing home.

Grant reluctantly agrees, even though one of the nursing home's rules is that no new residents are allowed to have any visitors for the first 30 days, in order to give them time to adjust to their new surroundings. When Grant returns after the 30 days are up, he finds that Fiona no longer remembers him and has started a relationship with one of her fellow residents. Polley's film is incredibly moving and offers a more realistic view of love in old age than most, but be warned: this one will have you reaching for the tissues.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel John Madden

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