The Indian retreat for the aged is looking to expand.
2011 flick The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was an unexpected hit, and so to the sequel.
I quite enjoyed the first Best Exotic, chiefly for its marvellous cast and thankfully and they’re (mostly) all back for the sequel. Which means you get to see the likes of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie and Penelope Wilton in some gorgeous locally shot Indian settings.
The second film is undoubtedly less engaging than the first – the plotting is messier and the glut of characters (and their various smaller narratives) rarely all that interesting. In particular, newcomer Richard Gere adds nothing to the picture, apart from proving that the 65 year old can still move on a dancefloor.
But the fact is that it kind of doesn’t matter. The cast is just so incredibly likeable, particularly the trio of Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. Ol Parker’s script rarely sparkles but their delivery is always spot on, especially Smith who is perfectly curmudgeonly and really elevates the production.
She was the main source of mirth at the screening I attended, along with gales of laughter for the frequent jokes about passing on. Seriously, this film is full of jokes about death, particularly from young Dev Patel, and the audience was eating them up.
Patel is certainly working hard here but his highly strung performance really grated on me, especially next to the more subtle work by the older cast, and I couldn’t really bring myself to care much about the issues he was having with his business.
There’s a lot of talking in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – which probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise – but most of it revolves around people talking about themselves while others listen. It’s all part of serving the main theme of the film, which is about reminding us that life doesn’t stop just because you’re older, and the thoughts and feelings and relationships of those in the 60s and 70s and 80s are just as valid as the young.
That message, alongside the charming cast, is enough to make the film worth a watch and stalwart fans of the original are guaranteed to be fairly entertained by this second go around.