Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) and the cantankerous Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) are looking to expand the Marigold Hotel chain. Sonny is also preparing for his forthcoming nuptials with Sunaina (Tena Desae). But love isn’t running smoothly for all of the residents. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are still dancing around their relationship whilst Norman (Ronald Pickup) is worried that he may have inadvertently hired someone to kill his partner.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a genuine treat that took everyone by surprise back in 2011. Ol Parker now returns to screen-write this continuation, which manages to keep the essence of the first film in-tact whilst furthering the story. The script is more predictable this time around but don’t let that spoil your enjoyment; it’s still a joy to check-in with the residents of the Marigold Hotel once again.
The cast are all as superb as you’d expect. Bill Nighy and Judi Dench’s relationship is very well handled, especially when Penelope Wilton reappears to reignite some difficult situations for them. Dev Patel’s enthusiasm carries the film through a few lulls and it’s great to see Toast of London’s infamous Clem Fandango aka Shazad Latif steals his scenes as a would-be rival for the affections of Tina Desai. Maggie Smith is her usual, reliable self and is frequently the best thing in the movie.
New faces like Richard Gere, Tamsin Greig and David Strathairn also make noticeable contributions to proceedings. Gere plays a man who could be an undercover hotel inspector but who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey). Celia Imrie also does a great job providing some nice comic relief as her character tackles with two wealthy suitors looking to marry her. Ronald Pickup steals his scenes as Norman – especially when he thinks that he has ordered a mafia-style hit on Carol during a drunken night of partying.
Visceral, warm and very welcoming – it’s nice to revisit these characters again. In this most unlikely of sequels, The Second Best Marigold Hotel proves that there is still magic left in the concept. It won’t convert non-believers and if you didn’t like the first film I doubt you’ll change your mind now. But the sheer endeavour of having a film like this be so profitable and well received in our current cinematic climate makes for very welcome news indeed. Let’s hope this becomes a trilogy.