The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel), and it’s making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai). Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, has only a single remaining vacancy—posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith), the keeper of everyone's secrets. As the demands of a traditional Indian wedding threaten to engulf them all, an unexpected way forward presents itself. Directed by John Madden (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Shakespeare in Love).
Advance Screening Thursday March 5!
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Thursday, March 5
Directed by: John Madden
Starring: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Dev Patel, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Tina Desai and Tamsin Greig
If the first “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was all about seeking rest and relaxation half a world away in India, then its relatively hectic successor finds the entire ensemble hustling jobs in Jaipur: Douglas (Nighy) gives tours of sites about which he knows precious little; Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) tend bar at the expats’ club; Evelyn (Dench) hunts for exotic fabrics; and Muriel (Maggie Smith) co-manages the establishment, which has been such a success that its ambitious — and newly engaged — owner, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), is looking to expand. Deferred retirements aside, they’ve never been happier — which is a curious place to begin for a film that must then manufacture inconsequential misunderstandings and easily resolved conflicts in order to justify another two hours spent in the company of its generally affable ensemble. Even Smith, so wickedly pungent in our memories, seems to have warmed this time around: Nineteen days older than Dench both onscreen and in real life, she’s the character we can’t bear to live without — a fact that director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker (both back from the original) clearly calculated when shifting the narration duties over from Dench to Smith. She opens and closes the film, sitting there like a fresh-cut onion, making you question whether that mistiness you feel is real or some well-calculated chemical reaction — in much the same way Thomas Newman’s score works, elbowing its way in to boost the energy at any moment we might want to catch our breath, while also supporting two full-blown Bollywood-style dance numbers. So, whether or not the film is to your taste, its creators have tried to do right by the original, brainstorming a plot deserving of a sequel before constructing another “Exotic Marigold Hotel” that’s hardly second-best. Peter Debruge - Film Critic / Variety