As this film started and I saw the likes of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, all looking rather old, I was suddenly overwhelmed with an incredible sense of sadness. These trio of actors are really the golden age of British cinema and what do we have left when these three are no longer around? An overwhelming sense of sadness washed over me and I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and cry. For this reason my review of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may be a little one sided, as these were my thoughts at the very start of the film. (You have been warned!)
It has been a couple of years since the first film, and Sonny (Dev Patel) has big dreams of expanding into a second hotel, as the guests from the first film Mrs Donnelly (Maggie Smith), Evelyn (Judi Dench) Douglas (Bill Nighy) and the rest now work and stay permanently at the hotel until they “check out.” Mrs Donnelly and Sonny are travelling around the USA attempting to find an investor for the expansion, they are told that a surprise appraisal person will visit their existing hotel to make an assessment and decision from there. If that wasn’t enough, Sonny is planning his engagement party with fiancee Sunaina (Tina Desai) whose school friends have rolled back into town and are trying to steal the second hotel from Sonny. To top it all off two new arrivals to the hotel Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tasmin Greig) have Sonny confused about who is the real appraisal to give them the expansion they need.
So yes it is a whole lot of drama and at times due to the amount of characters in the cast, it can get a little muddled, but the quality of the actors in the project is undeniable. There are several moments when the writing lets it down, but they never phone it in, and deliver a film that your grandmother, mother, girlfriend, lady friend or boy friend will be begging you to go to the movies and see with them.
Is it worth the price of admission? Yes – the cast delivers a stunning performance, the location shoot is gorgeous and lavish, the fresh faces keep it interesting and feels like a beautiful tribute to the “golden age” of British cinema actors.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is playing in cinemas now
Review by Alaisdair Dewar