Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The first Marigold Hotel (directed in 2011 by John Madden, drawn from Deborah Moggach’s book and full of oldie-but-goodie UK thespians) was a beloved favourite, and this sequel (also from Madden, featuring an even more plum cast and this time written specially for the screen) is another license to, ahem, print money, with a built-in, perhaps-getting-on audience who know they couldn’t possibly go wrong. And they won’t.

The first Marigold Hotel (directed in 2011 by John Madden, drawn from Deborah Moggach’s book and full of oldie-but-goodie UK thespians) was a beloved favourite, and this sequel (also from Madden, featuring an even more plum cast and this time written specially for the screen) is another license to, ahem, print money, with a built-in, perhaps-getting-on audience who know they couldn’t possibly go wrong. And they won’t. Opening with Sonny (the London-born Dev Patel) and the even drier and more desiccated Muriel (Maggie Smith) in San Diego and seeking to get their hotel involved with the bigtime US Evergreen chain (headed by David Strathairn), we then cut back to the Best Exotic to be reunited with the first film’s survivors. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are not properly together (rather improbably), and he’s forever lamenting his Bill-Nighy-like inexpressiveness; Madge (Celia Imrie) is caught between suitors (but is sure to pick the one you expect); and the still-randy Norman (Ronald Pickup) and his partner Carol (Diana Hardcastle) are about to undergo some relationship issues of their own. As Sonny and his family prepare for his marriage to Sunaina (Tina Desai), several more contrivances take effect, particularly when Brit Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) turns up seeking a room at the same time as wannabe-novelist Yank Guy (Richard Gere in pleasant form), Sonny must face off against an old rival (Shazad Latif) and, just to make sure that the first film’s fans are properly sated, Douglas’ alienated wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) turns up wanting a divorce and taking every opportunity to make bitingly ageist jokes. With a script that could conceivably have felt as tired as its senior cast, this is helped greatly by the easy charm of the prestige stars, many of whom are old mates and settle into variations on their sweetly standard shtick, with Smith, of course, making every knacker’s-yard one-liner zing. And the melancholy, bittersweet touches again work wonders, cutting through the clichés and making you care once more for characters that could well soon be checking into a Part Three entitled… what? The Third Bestest and Even More Exotic Marigold Hotel. Namaste!

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.

X