“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” proved to be one of the surprise hits of 2012, having earned over £20 million at the end of its UK run. Despite the lack of source material for a sequel (the first film was based on the novel by Deborah Moggach), director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker attempted to recreate the winning formula with “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.
With The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel running low on vacancies, Sonny (Dev Patel) pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel, alongside the newly0appointed assistant Muriel (Maggie Smith). All the while, Sonny is preparing for his imminent marriage to the love of his life Sunaina (Tina Desai).
Like its predecessor, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel contains a multiple-stranded narrative, with the same formidable cast returning. The ever-so-randy Norman (Ronald Pickup) hooks up with Carol (Diana Hardcastle) Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) resume their “will-they-won’t-they” relationship and Madge (Celia Imrie) is torn between which Indian man to wed.
There are also two new additions to the cast in the form of Tamsin Greig and Richard Gere. The two bring exactly what you’d expect in their respective roles, as silver fox Gere portrays the old-fashioned romantic lead, catching the eye of the hotel’s ladies. There’s an excellent chemistry between the characters, which is evident for the duration of the film’s two hour running time.
Another returning feature is the feel good factor, as Madden and Parker brilliantly recapture the warmth and humour evident in the first as, from the outset, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is bursting with dancing, colour and feel-good moments. While the wafer-thin storylines address trivial concerns (such as the correct way to make a cup of tea), the film ticks over nicely and makes for the perfect Sunday afternoon viewing.