I’ve been very lazy with this. I actually started writing it weeks ago, soon after seeing the film.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows the story of a group of pensioners who have established new lives in India. Yes it was predictable, a little twee and some of the story lines were unrealistic but with such a brilliant cast it was easy to overlook a few foibles.
In the First Exotic Marigold our pensioners, lured by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and imagining a life of leisure in lush surroundings, arrive to find that the Marigold is actually a shell of its former self. Though their new home is not quite what they had imagined, instead of returning home the retirees actually take on the responsibility of helping Sonny the manic, optimistic owner/manager turn the hotel around.
Recently widowed Evelyn (Judi Dench) was emotionally and financially lost as she had, for her entire married life, depended on her husband for almost everything. She secured a job teaching call centre workers about British culture. This story line was easy to accept because it was credible that she would be the perfect person for such a role.
Unhappily married Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) were hoping to find an affordable retirement after losing most of their savings. The vitriolic Jean hated everything about their new surroundings and was truly vile to everyone, and everyone was overjoyed when she went home leaving the hapless Douglas to pursue Evelyn, with whom he was falling in love.
Madge (Celia Imrie), fed up with unsuccessful marriages behind her was searching for a new husband.
Muriel (Maggie Smith) needed a hip replacement, and despite being prejudiced against Indians and every other person of colour under the sun, had travelled to India where it could be done quickly and cheaply.
Norman (Ronald Pickup), an aged lothario struggling to accept his age and undesirability by younger women was hoping to find new possibilities.
Graham (Tom Wilkinson) a retired high court judge spent his first eighteen years in India and had returned hoping to find the man he fell in love with but was forced to abandon.
Sonny (Dev Patel) part owner and manager of the hotel, is determined to restore it to its former glory.
Sunaina (Tena Desae) is Sonny's girlfriend. She befriends Evelyn when Evelyn gets a job at the same call centre.
Mrs Kapoor (Lillete Dubey) widowed mother of Sonny. She admits that Sonny is not her favourite son, and wants him to move back with her to Delhi for an arranged marriage, not to Sunaina.
As the hotel improves our pensioners, instead of just relaxing, find employment, interests and love until eventually each one had found some kind of solution to their problem. We left them happily basking in the twilight of their years as the sun sets over their new home in India.
I was looking forward to catching up with the group and I wasn’t disappointed. In the Second Best Exotic Marigold Evelyn at the age of 79, had landed a prestigious job travelling the length and breadth of India sourcing fabric samples for a textile company - mmm this is where you have to suspend credibility.
Douglas has a job taking foreign visitors on terrible tours, whilst all the time fretting in his hapless fashion trying to work out how to make a romantic move on Evelyn.
Jean comes back in the sequel, still nasty and vicious, but thankfully only stays long enough to request a divorce and boast about a mythical relationship with a new lover.
Madge’s search for a new husband has resulted in not one but two suitors, both wealthy, slightly older and competing for her affections. She wasn’t portrayed very well, playing one off against the other, until eventually she realises that she has fallen for the modest noble driver who has been ferrying her around.
Muriel has undergone a major transformation. As a bit of an expert with figures she helped to turn around the fortunes of the hotel. The hip replacement was successful and her demeanour is positively euphoric, liking everyone. At the beginning of the sequel we find her jetting off to New York with Sonny for high level meetings with financiers to help secure funds for development of a Marigold Hotel chain. (suspend credibility again).
Norman has met newcomer Carol (Diana Hardcastle). He is keen to give monogamy a go but she has other ideas. He follows her, has a misunderstanding with a taxi driver, then it all gets a bit silly.
Sonny is juggling his forthcoming wedding to Sunaina and his determination to purchase another run down hotel to become the Second Exotic Marigold.
Sunaina is busy planning the wedding whilst Mrs Kapoor, Sonny’s mother is coming to terms with the approaching nuptials. She also has a blossoming romance of her own with the gorgeous Richard Gere who may or may not be a hotel inspector who can help Sonny get approval from investors to open a second hotel. Cue the arrival of another character, the real hotel inspector played by Tansin Greig.
For me both films had all the ingredients for a sweet, funny, feel good experience plus the added bonus of Richard Gere.
Images were sourced from the web.
Images were sourced from the web.