Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), owner of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India, is to be married to his girlfriend Sunaina in mere days, but at the same time, he’s trying to expand into a new hotel along with his business partner Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith). Meanwhile, the residents of the hotel are dealing with their own issues of love and mortality.
The pensioners are back! All our favourite old age actors and actresses return in the sequel to the brilliant 2011 original, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but can the magic of the first film be recreated? When trailers surfaced for this sequel instead of the groans that I often meet sequels with I was just so pleased to see the much loved characters from the first outing returning to the big screen again. You would think with the strength of this cast it would be nearly impossible to disappoint and you would think right as The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a fantastic sequel!
Let’s start by talking about that cast, it is just so great; Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel and new addition Richard Gere. The combination of each of these actors and actresses screen presence coupled with their comic and emotional abilities as professionals effortlessly brings the script to life even despite there being such a focus on life coming to an end! Richard Gere was just what the sequel needed, a new face. It was great to see another older well known actor and his contribution to the film worked well, never feeling forced or unnatural. In this way the sequel remained fresh whilst staying credible and true to the original film. For me though the star of the show, much like the first film, is Dev Patel. This guy is just such a great actor and especially when he plays Indian characters. Here through Patel’s performance, Sonny, easily continues to be one of the most likeable characters in film. Amongst all of his flamboyance and manic behaviour it can be easy to miss the softer moments to this character but these definitely are present and contribute to the heart-warming feel of the film too.
Once again there is a strong presence of Indian culture which I loved. The film manages to encapsulate several elements of India into the film and it is always a pleasure to watch a film explore the culture that it is set in, we are even treated to a Slumdog style Bollywood dance routine which was easily one of the highlights for me. The Indian inspired score was a fine accompaniment to the film and was especially effective in the more emotional moments of the film, of which there are plenty. The Second Best Marigold Hotel really does get you involved emotionally, you feel connected to the characters and even the hotel itself meaning that the film appeals to you as a whole and really transports you to the time and place it is set.
The films starts with a punch, the jokes are flowing and the plot is set. However once this happens and the film settles into itself I have to admit that in its middle section it does get slightly bogged down with following the relationships of all the characters. There is a focus on no less than five relationships in the film and although they aren’t necessarily all explored in detail it can become slightly monotonous watching each of these play out only to be wrapped up in a predictable fashion, however I almost expected this. It wasn’t a major issue and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film, of course the free flowing humour made it an easy and enjoyable watch. I would have liked a greater focus on the main plot point though, of Sonny’s plans for expansion as this was the most exciting and engaging aspect of the film. Due to the nature of Sonny’s character, which I have already mentioned, you desperately want him to succeed and anytime something or someone stands in his way you feel it just as much as he does.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel builds fantastically on the foundation that the first film set in 2011. The returning and new cast do a fantastic job of portraying their characters and are suitably likeable or not so much, but they all hit the mark and have the desired effect. With humour and heart The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a two hour escape to India and you will definitely want to visit this hotel again!
We give The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 4.5 out of 5 Nerds.