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Geezers’ Delight

A fable for the underserved, over-50 crowd.

May 28, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 35 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
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Maggie Smith, bereft of makeup and with a horrendous haircut, plays an old racist working-class bag—a character far removed from the dowager countess in Downton Abbey, in which she has become a sensation, once again, in her seventies. And yet, Smith’s Mrs. Donnelly is every bit as lived-in, as considered, as controlled. This is not just great acting, it’s joyous acting that transmits a sheer love of performing and makes you happy just to watch it. Forty-two years ago, Smith won her first Oscar as the inspiring, maddening, and literally fascist girls’-school teacher in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; 33 years ago, she won her second in the deservedly forgotten Neil Simon short-film triptych, California Suite. Unless something very unlikely happens between now and next February, she will win her third for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. She will be the only thing one really remembers about it anyway.

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic.

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