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Soundtrack review: The best exotic Marigold Hotel (Thomas NEwman – 2012)

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Soundtrack review: The best exotic Marigold Hotel (Thomas NEwman – 2012)


„The best exotic Marigold Hotel” is a very enjoyable movie about a group of British retirees who move to an Indian hote. The cast is stellar, with Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson. It was a surprise hit at the box office and I really liked it. The movie is light and fun and a mood like this is very suitable for the talents of Thomas Newman. I know everyone expected A.R. Rahman since this was an Indian themed movie but I am glad they tried someone else for a change.

Now Newman has a unique style of writing music. His light and upbeat compositions are unmistakable and you always know what to get from one of his scores. You either like it or you don’t. For some movies it works, for others it doesn’t. For me, with a few exceptions, it’s all about the mood I’m in when I hear his music. And this time around, the score really hit the spot.

This movie is about retiring, relaxing and enjoying life. There’s nothing heavy in it and Thomas Newman makes it clear from the beginning. “Long old life” is a very nice opening theme which sets the tone for the entire score. I feel the sweet melancholy of a summer holyday evening when I hear “The chimes at midnight”. The soft Indian vocal inserts add to the mystery and make the sensation run deeper.

“Road to Jaipur” gives the sitar center stage and it sounds very authentic. I can almost see the car wobbling on the dusty road. “Night bus” is almost a vocal improvisation and it works. I feel like I am right there in India with these guys. The background vocals sound best in “The best exotic Marigold hotel”. Thomas Newman nails the feeling of this cue, the mystery and the almost mystic nature of the place. The music is more reflective that then in the previous, joyful cues and I instantly connect with this piece. I dream of an exotic vacation when I listen to it.

“Cricket spell” is where I recognize the Thomas Newman effect in all its glory. This is what he does best; this is the soft melancholy that works so well in his music. This cue echoes back to my favorite Newman compositions and gives me the same nostalgia I get from remembering a beautiful summer’s afternoon. It has the Indian inserts as well but they are more than welcomed. I like how those are used all through the score. They are not aggressive or intrusive… they are just there for flavor and mix very well with the rest of the music.

Most of the times they just add to the mystery as they are soft and echo like. Take “Udaipur” and “Turning left” for example, the most ethereal like cues from this score. They are the beginning of the heartfelt ending to “The best exotic Marigold Hotel”. The Indian version of Thomas Newman’s music works and this is one of the most exciting scores I’ve heard from him a while. It just puts me in a good and dreamy mood and I will definitely return to it when the mood requires.

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 47

Album excellence: 25%


The Chimes at Midnight

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Cricket Spell

Turning Left

What Happens Instead





Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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