Film review – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


I am usually sceptical of sequels and worry whether they can live up to the first film. As a huge fan of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel I wondered whether they could re-capture that beauty of the original story.

Luckily, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does. It takes everything that made the first one great and adds more big laughs, more romance and much more dancing.

The exotic vibrancy of India makes for a visually stunning backdrop and adds to each scene with the intricately jewelled dresses, traditional architecture and the occasional elephant casually walking down the road. The attention to detail and faith to Indian culture adds a layer of authenticity to an otherwise sweet and fluffy story.

This sequel is divided into 3 sections: the engagement party, the family party and the wedding to ensure non-stop celebrations and dancing, and keeps the humour throughout – watching Dame Judi Dench attempt to keep up with the traditional dancing was certainly memorable. The three chapters are also a testament to the amount of romance and love throughout the film. With so many characters pairing off and finding love it was hard to keep track, but ultimately very sweet and a reminder that growing old doesn’t mean you have to give up on finding love.

The already star-studded cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy is joined by Tamsin Greig and Richard Gere, who both add to the warmth and humour throughout, and are a welcome addition to an already impressive cast.

While the characters and writers never take the film too seriously there is still a poignant and memorable ending with a message that everyone can take away. It added a bittersweet element to the film that had previously all been slapstick comedy and quips about growing old disgracefully.

The romance between Evelyn (Dench) and Douglas (Nighy) tentatively blossoms as both worry about finding love so late in the game. It is not your typical over-the-top love story but a gentle, slow rising one which makes it far sweeter. This is hilariously contrasted with the Madge (Celia Imrie) who is determined to have her cake and eat it when it comes to men, proving you don’t have to be confined by any rules when dating as a pensioner.

With the development of Muriel Donnelly’s character, played by Maggie Smith, we see the harsher truths of growing old and that it’s not all affairs with taxi drivers and riding motorbikes, as the other characters suggest. Her voiceover at the end as she comes to terms with her age and the decisions she has made throughout her life, gives the story a purpose and meaning which draws in the audience. This is a tricky balance to set as the formula of a comedy that is not too brash and overbearing with a slight hint of sadness and reflection is a tough brief to follow, but they manage to get it just right.

Genuinely sweet and entertaining – 4 stars.

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Posted on 12th March 2015 by Elinore Court.

Elinore Court lives at Liberty House in London, she is studying a masters degree in Magazine Journalism at City University.

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