The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

March 6, 2015

in Movies

Film (2015)

Directed by John Madden
Screenplay by Ol Parker

Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge, MA

With Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Richard Gere (Guy), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), David Strathairn (Hotel chain executive), Tamsin Greig (Lavinia), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), Diana Hardcastle (Carol), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Shazad Latif (Kushal Kadania)

Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie
in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
TM AND © 2015 FOX AND ITS RELATED ENTITIES
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

A second installment in the aging-but-not-dead-yet set finding personal and romantic renewal in India.

The first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel saw Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) and his girlfriend, Sunaina (Tina Desai), with the help of Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), set up the first residential target for aging Britishers and now in the sequel they are back with a vengeance. Sonny and Sunaina are slated to get married, but there’s some trouble in paradise. Meanwhile, the aging ones touch on the matter of refound love while further establishing their lives in Jaipur.

One might be tempted to call it “Downton Abbey East” given Maggie Smith’s and Penelope Wilton’s significant presence here. Wilton, at least, gets to play a sadder, bitchier type in Marigold than she does in Downton, and there’s no delightful sparring here between her and Smith.

Lillete Dubey as Mrs. Kapoor, Richard Gere as Guy in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Lillete Dubey as Mrs. Kapoor
Richard Gere as Guy
in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
TM AND © 2015 FOX AND ITS RELATED ENTITIES
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

But there’s plenty of mature talent to go around. What a great ruse to get the likes of Smith, Wilton, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and now David Straithairn and Richard Gere, all under the same roof. With that gathering of talent and personality, it’s hard to go wrong. Of course, Patel and his now fiancee anchor down the younger end of things, making for a pretty good mix. Sonny’s moody mother, Mrs. Kapoor (Lillete Dubey) has entered into a significant role as well.

Sequels do tend to suffer in the long run, but here it all goes okay. Under John Madden’s capable direction, this boatload of wonderful actors delivers, even if the story is a bit silly at times. Just to see Judi Dench and Bill Nighy navigate their proto-romance and to watch Maggie Smith navigate the outer boundaries of her aging are worth entry here.

Patel is a kind of enthusiasm machine, which, here again, works pretty well, especially since the script varies the one-note optimistic intensity, calling for him to come down from that adrenaline perch for awhile.

The script is full of quaint lines that play obviously off the issue of aging. “Nobody checks out of here, until, of course, the final checkout” exemplifies that category of quip.

The slight swipe with a bit of raciness also prevails: “You dear lady,” says Patel’s character to a middle-aged guest, “are nearer the menopause than the mortuary.”

Maggie Smith is the master of the dry repartee. Having returned from a business trip with Patel across the Pacific, her character is asked “How was America?” The reply: “I went with low expectations and came back disappointed.”

Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade
in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
TM AND © 2015 FOX AND ITS RELATED ENTITIES
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dench gets to deliver some of the philo-sentimental lines like: “The difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of a hair” and she does it so Denchily-well that it does not wither and die on the vine.

Bill Nighy has a quiet nobility replete with charming uncertainly that works very well with Dench’s simmering but loveable restraint. He gets to say things like “never say die until you die” and because it’s him it also works.

There are millions of little plotlets that hover around this small town of aging actors, which makes things move along well enough. And, of course, it is in India, full of color, exuberance and life, the perfect pick-me-up for its target audience.

– BADMan

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