The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Film Review

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had it’s UK release last week. It follows on from the 2012 sleeper hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, about a group of elderly British retirees who travel to Jaipur, India taking up residence in a less luxurious hotel than advertised, which eventually charms them all. In Director John Madden’s (Shakespeare In Love, Mrs Brown) sequel, we continue with the adventures of the elderly Britons who are now quite at home in the very colourful India, with new careers, their relationships with one another, new residence arriving at the hotel and the lead up to Sunny (Dev Patel) and Sunaina’s (Tina Desai) impending marriage. It’s charming and heart warming with plenty of witty one liners.

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is directed and written by the same team, John Madden and Ol Parker, with the wonderful cast returning again, this time adding to the mix a very charming Richard Gere who plays Guy, looking to stay at the hotel, much to the pleasure of the females residence.

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The movie starts with Sonny (Dev Patel) and Muriel (Maggie Smith), who is now the co manager of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, driving in Calofornia, on their way to a meeting to discuss plans for expanding the business, with future investors Ty Burley (David Strathairn), hoping to open up a second hotel. Back in Jaipur, Sonny is also busy planning his wedding to sweetheart Sunaina (Tina Desai). New arrivals at the hotel yet only one vacancy left creating an issue, are Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) and silver fox Guy Chambers (Richard Gere), claiming to be a writer, although Sonny assumes is the hotel inspector in disguise. Guy takes an immediate interest in Sonny’s mum Mrs Kapoor (played by the gorgeous Lillete Dubey). In the meantime Evelyn (the marvellous Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy), played charmingly by both, have joined the Indian workforce but have yet to move forward with their friendship, both wondering where their breakfast dates will lead to. Madge Hardcastle (wonderfully acted by Celia Imrie) proves that ageing hasn’t affected her mischievous man eating ways as she juggles two wealthy suitors. Norman (Ronald Pickup) is concerned his relationship with Carol (Diana Hardcastle) isn’t exclusive. Penelope Wilton is excellent as she returns briefly as Douglas’s estranged wife Jean. Will the plans for the expansion work out or even those of the upcoming wedding?

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Even though Dev Patel as over eager Sonny does overact and no Delhi cousin of mine actually speaks in that manner he is jovial and extremely likeable with some great one liners. Still not quite convinced with his accent though and I do hope to see him in grittier roles in the future. One of my favourite characters in the movie is that of the once bigoted Muriel Donnelly played by Maggie Smith, who is a no nonsense straight forward speaking woman. Her nature has calmed down considerably though since the first film, still blunt but we get to see a warmer, much wiser woman with a great deal of wit.

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is entertaining and endearing. Although less narrative than its predecessor and more characters to take on, I enjoyed the movie, just slightly less than the first. It’s not the type of film to be picked apart or analysed as we’re reunited with a brilliant cast of fascinating characters to see where life takes them next. It is great to see a leading cast above a certain age, all of whom were wonderful and effortless. Both films at some point make you consider your own mortality but I walked away feeling uplifted and hopeful about growing old. Our hopes and fears remain the same regardless of life experience or how many years we have been on the Earth. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel shows us characters who are capable of so much and deserve to have a fulfilling and fun life, no matter what our age or cultural background. But to do so we have to be brave and open to change which is inevitable, so why not embrace it, enjoy the ride and laugh as much as possible. As one of the lines in the film goes ‘no one checks out until the ultimate checkout’.

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I give The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 7/10 (122 mins, certificate 12)

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Interviews with some of the stars and director John Madden to follow soon.