Released in 2012, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was such an unexpected critical and commercial success, that a sequel was inevitable. Three years later, and the gang of late in life immigrants are all back in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; a title that suggests the film to be inferior compared to the first, when in truth, it actually joins the elite club of sequels that are better than the original. Time is a central theme of the film, touching upon our mortality and how life is too short to let our fears hold us back; and time seems to be one of the main reasons that the film works as well as it does. The original writing and directing team of John Cadden and Ol Parker, have clearly used the time between films to lovingly craft a story that brings back all the elements that worked so well the first time round, whilst progressing it in a natural way.
Freed from the shackles of first time introductions and with the characters all properly settled into the hotel, and our minds, Parker and Cadden are able to throw us straight into the story, or rather, stories. An unlikely duo of Hoteliers; young and overzealous Sonny Kapoor, accompanied by the take no prisoners 79 year old, Muriel Donnelly, are travelling across Route 66 when we first meet them. They’re on their way to a big meeting with potential investors in their expansion of the Best Exotic hotel. Meanwhile, back in India, Douglas and Evelyn are skirting around the issue of their relationship; Madge is torn between two wealthy men; and Norman may have accidentally just taking out a hit on his girlfriend Carol. All of this is set-up in the films opening moments, before the credits have even started.
Whilst it doesn’t quite manage to maintain the rigorous pace of its opening, and the film could arguably be cut by about twenty minutes; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has enough charm and life-affirming sentiment, to the point where everything else just doesn’t really matter. In a way, it’s the perfect film to lead us out of award season; one that may not be challenging, or technically amibitious, but is plain and simply lovely to watch. In terms of the cast, it doesn’t get much better, or as classy, as Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup and Lillete Dubey do what they do best. Dev Patel deserves equal praise however, for his performance as the exciteable entrepreneur, Sonny. He’s proving that he’s an actor with wide range and high likeability, holding his own against the cast of thesp’s that surround him.
With an excellent cast and consistent laughs (and I mean laugh out loud, belly laughs) from beginning to end; The Second Best Exotic Hotel is one not to miss, especially if you’re a fan of the first. It’s far from perfect and does have old people dancing, which will make you, and your teenager cringe; but it’s the type of cinematic experience where the warmth, the colour, the noise and the good natured fun of it all, makes you forgive its flaws. Go see it, laugh and maybe even cry a little. I assure you that either way, you’ll leave with a huge smile on your face.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com