Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant TV Editor
The concept of a sequel is both fascinating and terrifying. The chance for another go at a successful film with the same characters in a new situation is promising. However, the odds for the film to be terrible are just as likely. Needless to say, it is a gamble that can reward handsomely or wreck a perfect winning streak. The doors to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel have opened—and the verdict? While still maintaining the sharp and joyful wit of the original film (a massive surprise hit at $136 million worldwide), this sequel brings enough new to its walls to feel necessary. It balances the weight of addressing plots from the previous film while introducing new scenarios that don’t feel forced.
With the success of Sonny Kapoor’s (Dev Patel) Exotic Marigold Hotel, he and his business partner Muriel (Maggie Smith) are attempting to franchise their crowned jewel. They travel to California and pitch their senior living center to a major assisted living firm that agrees to investigate further into possibly funding them. Back in India, the staple guests are continuing their renewed lives at the first Exotic Marigold Hotel. Evelyn (Judi Dench) seeks to find a new job while balancing her timid romantic relationship with Douglas (Bill Nighy). Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diana Hardcastle) are still as in love as ever, except for their lingering suspicions that the other is cheating. The always enticing Madge (Celia Imrie) finds herself torn between two possible great loves—that is until the new guest to the Marigold Hotel enters. Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) is a supposed American novelist, but Sonny believes him to be the investigator for the assisted living firm. In the midst of all the relationship questioning and business-building, Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) are preparing for their wedding day.
The best aspect from the first Marigold Hotel film was the interaction between the stellar cast of seasoned acting pros. The sequel not only includes the great quips and grin-inducing deliveries from the original, but it adds new levels of enjoyment from the focus on Sonny’s mother, Mama G (Lillete Dubey) and her possible connection with Guy. It’s an interesting and welcome change to see a strong woman like Mama G put more weight into her family and business than simply finding love. The heart from the original resurges through the struggles with health that Muriel buries underneath her lovable but tough exterior. The film does not pander to this character arc, but rather gives it the subtlety that life often does to an upstanding character such as Muriel.
The grand scope of the film is shown through several dance sequences in preparation for Sonny and Suni’s wedding. These scenes in and of themselves give audiences the chance to experience a different culture, and they do it in a beautiful way, but the most beautiful scene has to be Sonny and Suni’s wedding. The customs in the ceremony are portrayed with ease and reverence while a voiceover from Maggie Smith on her inevitable death adds that extra layer of beauty. The manner in which the scene embodies both the starting of a new life and the ending of another is equally heart wrenching and inspiring.
Overall, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not one to miss. It’s a rare and magical occurrence that a sequel is even worth seeing, and almost impossible to see it surpass its predecessor. This second Hotel may just be that impossible example though, and may become a contender for the best hotel.
Overall Grade: A+