Following the incredible success of John Madden’s adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel, a return visit to the Rajasthan retirement home seemed inevitable. This time out, novice hotelier Sonny (Dev Patel) is scrambling to secure a second location for his booming business, but to ensure financial support from an American investor he must undergo an anonymous inspection. At that moment Richard Gere’s “aspiring novelist” checks in, sending staff and guests alike into a flustered frenzy.
Narrative was never the first film’s strongest priority, and again it is the venerable assortment of gold standard British thesps that proves the winning formula. Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and company revel in their roles, as each must embrace increasing decrepitude, their foreign environs and the inevitable journey to the great beyond.
Somewhat ironically perhaps, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel positively bursts with vitality and humour, as romance, music and an ever-so-mild smattering of peril season this deliciously indulgent repeat performance.
This review first appeared in Cathay Pacific’s Discovery Magazine, June 2015