With more “central” characters that you can throw a stick at, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the epitome of an ensemble cast. And the problem with such things is the need to allow every character enough “story time” to make their appearance worthwhile and still feel like they are contributing to the narrative progression. You can fall into the trap of creating too many narrative strands that never meet; it feels like a collection of separate stories with no cohesion. But don’t worry, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does none of these things and is a triumphant return for our favourite collection of septuagenarians!
Ol Parker has crafted a screenplay of such wonderful writing that to return to his world of “waiting for god” hotel residents is like slipping on your most favourite pair of slippers, sitting back with a cup of Horlicks and letting the whole experience gently massage your aching bones to the point of utter bliss. That this film is only 64% fresh with Rotten Tomatoes beggars belief. And I don’t know what the (currently) 1,226 users of IMDb witnessed but a rating of 6.9 is an unworthy one.
There is nothing to dislike with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Starting pretty much where the first film left off, we are quickly brought up to speed as to what these Ex-Pats have been up to for the intervening 8 months and then off we are sent into a well-crafted story. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a film where the “older person” is treated with enough intelligence to show that they are just that – only older. With faculties well-and-truly intact, these people know they’re getting older but that doesn’t stop them wanting to live. Life certainly doesn’t end when you’ve retired and all there’s left to do is watch daytime TV.
With John Madden also returning to direct, this lucky combination of writer and director clearly understand the worth of these wonderful people. He also has a great eye for this ethereal setting, garnering sumptuous moments of eye-catching beauty within this sub-continental ex-colonial world. And I haven’t even started to talk about the performances!
This really could be described as a tale of two Dames. With Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has two firm anchors within its story around which most others circle, tethered to their solid footing. Muriel Donnelly – played by Dame Maggie Smith – provides the grounded life experience to enable others to learn and grow, while Evelyn Greenslade – played by Dame Judi Dench – allows us to understand that even at a greater age than ours, we are still allowed to dream and hope for new horizons and new beginnings. Add to that the wonderful Dev Patel, the always watchable Bill Nighy and the sizzling sass of Celia Imrie and, quite frankly, you have a winner!
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is every bit as good as its predecessor. In fact, I enjoyed it even more than the first. Don’t be put off by a film inhabited by people old enough to be your parents or grandparents. We have a movie that simply shows what these people have to offer – and an opportunity to understand that hopes for relationships and all that that entails is not just the domain of people under 40.
Thank you for reading 🙂