Could the title of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel be intentionally tongue-in-cheek? Despite the reunion of winning writer-director duo Ol Parker (Now Is Good) and John Madden (Shakespeare In Love), this sequel is ultimately ‘second best’.
Five pensioners continue their Indian journey of self-discovery at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in a new chapter that seamlessly picks up where Deborah Moggach’s novel concludes. Disorganised hotelier Sonny (Dev Patel) is on a mission to expand the retirement enterprise while planning his wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desai). Cantankerous eighty-nine year old Muriel (Maggie Smith) is on hand to persuade American investors with her prickly temper and ‘salty’ tongue.
While The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel shares the same tender humour as its predecessor, the uplifting tone is somewhat obscured. The film misses Tom Wilkinson’s charm, and the romantic exploits of Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie) fail to deliver the laughs they should.
With the addition of Richard Gere’s flimsy wannabe novelist, the ensemble is overstuffed and the characters shortchanged. In spite of these flaws, the seasoned cast is a pleasure to watch and Bill Nighy and Judi Dench, to whom this instalment ultimately belongs, alleviate many of the sequel’s problems.
Madden continues to depict an idealised India with bright colours, opulent costumes and magnificent Bollywood dance sequences but in cinema this harmless it hardly seems to matter. A smart perspective on ageing and superb performances make this a charming, if second-rate, sequel.
VERDICT: ✭ ✭ ✭ 3/5
Running Time: 122 minutes
UK Release Date: 26 February 2015
Images: © 2014 – Fox Searchlight
Review first printed in Ashfield & Mansfield Chad