Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) Film Review
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Bucking the trend for sequels to be filled with little more than sloppy seconds and disappointment, The Second Best Marigold Hotel more than manages to hold it's own, even going so far as to improve on the previous outing in one or two areas.
We return to India, where some of the best UK actors of their generation are again taking on the mantle of Brits abroad. Judi Dench's Evelyn is now embarking on a tentative relationship with the newly single Douglas (Bill Nighy), while there are even signs that lothario Norman (Ronald Pickup) may finally be hankering to settle down with Carol (Diana Hardcastle). Man-hungry Madge (Celia Imrie) is busy trying to choose between two wealthy suitors, while cantakerous Muriel (Maggie Smith) has become a firm part of the hotel management, trying to help young owner Sonny (Dev Patel) achieve the expansion he dreams of in the run-up to his wedding with Sunaina (Tina Desai).
Freed from the constraints of the 'origins' story, Ol Parker's screenplay feels much more organic. The problem with wrangling such large casts comes in the tricky business of giving them all a subplot and, inevitably, some of the ones used here - a comedic accidental 'hitman' request and the sudden arrival of Douglas's estranged wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) in particular - feel included for the sake of it. But the two main drivers of the plot - Sonny and Sunaina's impending nuptuals and the arrival of a "secret shopper" who may hold the key to expansion and who may, or may not, be Richard Gere's Guy - work a treat.
Initially, there are fears that we are going to be strafed by one-liners but once the Parker's screenplay eases up on the patter and starts to look beneath the surface of his characters there is a strong emotional reward. These are people who have reached an age where they aren't scared to speak their minds, even if they are grappling with the choices they face. Douglas speaks with longing about the fact life holds "so much bloody potential" but with the clock ticking, insecuity, the fear of failure and disappointment have become even more acute.
The scenes with Sonny and Sonaina experiencing their own doubts about the future also feel much more integrated into the body of the film than their subplot in the first film, thanks mainly to the increasing friendship between Muriel and Sonny. And it is in Muriel that the film finds its Ace. Retaining the waspish asides of the first movie but able to bring much more fragility to the fore, Smith effortlessly exposes a contradictory combination of fear and bravery that many older people will find familiar.
Director John Madden - this time working with cinematographer Ben Smithard - again brings fluidity and energy to his direction, which coupled with strong and colourful production design give a great sense of place and come as a warm and welcome antidote to the cold days of its February release date. Madden also chooses his quiet moments carefully and lets his actors do their stuff without words - whether it is the smallest of smiles from Imrie in the back of a car, the glance of Dench across a busy wedding reception or the determined gleam in the eye of Smith, he captures it.Reviewed on: 25 Feb 2015
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