The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel—Review

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a thoughtful, heartwarming and comical tale of a group of down-on-their-luck retirees who find themselves for one reason or another, going to India to live at a hotel which promises affordable, luxuriant living for people in their golden years.  They arrive to find the place isn’t quite what it promised—in fact, they complain that the brochure was photoshopped, to which the optimistic and incredibly buoyant owner, Sonny, replied, “I have offered you a vision of the future.”   The movie follows their journeys to face fears and embrace myriad changes (some better than others)—a new stage of life, a new country, new culture, new relationships, and new roles and responsibilities.

As you might expect from such a movie, there are a lot of gems to be picked up along the way.  Each person’s journey was poignant and had something to offer, but the one who really stuck out to me was the young hotel owner, Sonny (perfectly played by Dev Patel, the young boy from Slumdog Millionaire).  Not only was he hilarious, but he had a few sayings that ought to be the mantras of believers everywhere.

Sonny would say, “We have a saying—everything will be alright in the end.  If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”  THIS is the Christian’s hope.  We know that in the end, we will be with Jesus in heaven—where everything will be alright: no more tears, no more suffering, only perfection and joy as we worship and fellowship, face to face with Jesus.  So, if you find that right now things are not alright, then you need not worry—it isn’t the end.

Sonny had another typically optimistic saying: “This is a disaster!  Then we must treat it exactly like a triumph.”  This too is the Christian’s hope—that God is sovereign and able to work good through all things[1], such that disaster and triumph are equal in their ability to bring glory to God.  (And isn’t that what we are supposed to be all about, the glory of HIS name?)  Not only is it the Christian’s hope, but also His command.  Paul writes it in the imperative: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. … In everything…with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”[2] (emphasis added).  Always, in everything, rejoice and give thanks.  Paul makes no distinction between disaster and triumph.  In fact, he tells us that he so learned to see tragedy and triumph as equal (from a spiritual perspective) that he was “content”[3] no matter what happened to him.

Oh Christian, do you not see that we ought to treat disasters exactly like triumphs as well?  It’s not that we are glib or unrealistic, but that we have a God who is never thwarted.  He is constantly taking all that the enemy intends for evil and using it for His good.[4]  And though it may feel like a disaster now, we know that everything will be alright in the end—so if it’s not alright, if it feels like a disaster, it’s not the end.  This is why we can treat disaster like a triumph—because we know that in the end, it will be.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Are you naturally more optimistic or pessimistic?
  • How do you respond to (and/or feel about) others who are optimistic?
  • Why do you think you tend toward optimism or pessimism?  How do you think your theology (your understanding of who God is) affects your outlook on life (your optimism or pessimism)?
  • How would it affect your life, or more specifically, a difficult situation you are in right now, if you really adopted Sonny’s responses to them?  (“Everything will be alright in the end.  If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”  And “This is a disaster!  Then we must treat it exactly like a triumph.”)
  • Do you see how Sonny’s little “isms” are really just repackaged, somewhat cheeky versions of age-old Christian teachings?  Did you notice that when you first heard them?



-by Stacey Tuttle-

[1] Romans 8:28

[2] Philippians 4: 4-6

[3] Philippians 4:10-13

[4] Genesis 50:20


Click here to read a collection of quotes from the movie.