<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by John Madden. Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Penelope Wilton, Tina Desai, Tamsi Greig, Richard Gere, David Strathairn, Lillete Dubey
The first Marigold Hotel was an interesting concept that had wit and some great actors filling the screen. This second one feels overstretched, dreary and full of silly plot lines that never really grab your interest.
A movie full of elderly actors set in a run-down building in Rajasthan, India about old age and new beginnings: who’d have thought it would have been so much fun. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a delight to watch for its endearing actors and Brit humour.
In the Second Best we continue on with the retirement party who don’t want to leave the hotel as they’ve found new meaning in their lives as well as new loves. But the problem is that the whole film dwells too much on way too little. The love affair between Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Evelyn (Judi Dench) doesn’t come to ‘adulterous’ proportions till the end of the movie and Sonny’s (Dev Patel) dream of a new hotel is only realised in the last 20 minutes giving it no time to shine as the titular premises.
Then there’s a whole other sub plot with Norman (Ronald Pickup) and his girlfriend who he thinks he’s accidentally taken out a hit on. Madge (Celia Imrie) is debating which of her two eligible Indian suitors to marry but we never really understand the dynamics or her confusion. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is lost in being the philosophical old curmudgeon.
Dev Patel’s lines in the film are funny but his patent expression gets tiring. And speaking of tired, the whole romance between Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) and Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey) is so yawn inducing and awkward that you wonder why the filmmakers chose this particular pairing.
In the end you get to see Dev Patel and the cast all dancing to Bollywood numbers but there’s no sense of triumph in this enterprise. Too many issues and conundrums and worries dog the characters and there’s not enough verve.