The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel once again takes the audience on a journey through India with our favourite set of English retirees. The sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit brings together the same ensemble cast as previously, as well as some new additions. The film is helmed by the same team which included writer, Ol Parker(who adapted Deborah Moggach’s novel for the original) and director, John Madden (Shakespeare in Love). What ensues is a fun, unsurprising and easy-going romp with the oldies.
This second film has a lot more energy and storylines to bring together than the first. The sheer volume of the latter means at times these threads are not drawn together as seamlessly as possible. The sharp-tongued, Maggie Smith takes over the narration duties and is now acting as the co-manager of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful”, along with the original owner, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel). Business is thriving so they look at expansion and travel to America to convince a wealthy investor (David Strathairn) to offer up the funds.
But money isn’t given for nothing and for the deal to go ahead the investor decides to send along an anonymous hotel inspector. When the suave American writer, Guy Chambers ((Richard Gere) who still makes hearts swoon and fits in here brilliantly) arrives at their doorstep, Sonny believes it’s a façade and that Guy is the inspector. This assumption throws Sonny into the land of Basil Fawlty as he fawns over this visitor (while pimping out his own mother in the process) and doesn’t care if it’s all at the expense of another guest, like the relatively young English woman (Tamsin Greig).
The other characters, meanwhile, are having to deal with their own issues involving love and relationships. There is the lothario Norman (Ronald Pickup) and his promiscuous girlfriend, Carol (Diana Hardcastle) grappling with monogamy while Madge (Celia Imrie) does her best Blanche Devereaux impersonation as she is forced to pick between two different, eligible male suitors. The amazing Judi Dench is a scene-stealer playing Evelyn Greenslade, an independent woman who has built a career in India but is still struggling to get her relationship with unlikely tour guide, Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) off the ground.
The youngsters don’t fare much better. Sonny’s love interest and now fiancé, Sunaina (Tina Desai) is busy planning all of the aspects relating to their wedding. But Sonny is far too preoccupied with the hotel. So when Sunaina introduces her brother’s friend (and wedding dance choreographer), Kushal (Shazad Latif) this leads to a bizarre love triangle of sorts.
The jokes aren’t as frequent in the sequel and sadly all of the best zingers can be found in the film’s trailer. Despite this and some minor bumps in the plot, this film is redeemed by a series of engaging performances from some seasoned and professional actors. The story is also upbeat and energetic and the ensemble are certainly a likeable and affable lot.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may not hit all of the right notes but it is still a good sequel and film. Some things may be a little shambolic but the overall result is something that is heart-warming and pleasant. In short, it’s an enjoyable film that you can bring your Nan along to as you giggle at some light-hearted silliness.
Originally published on 24 February 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/02/24/film-review-the-second-best-exotic-marigold-hotel-usa-uk-2015/
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