“Sometimes it seems to me that the difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.”
Does The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel suffer from that oh-so deadly sequel syndrome? Not really. The Second Best Exotic is a sequel worthy of its publically-adored predecessor. The film retains its infectious charm thanks to its wonderfully balanced cast and its ever-intriguing location.
The Second Best Exotic is a nice film. The cast retains its youthful charm, primarily in the ridiculously charismatic Dev Patel who breathes life into the “crumbling ruins”. His portrait in the hotel’s reception never fails to tickle. As far as Patel is an optimistic joy, Maggie Smith makes it her pleasure to be a pessimistic parallel. Her miserly cynicism is as entertaining as Patel’s charisma, making them an excellent pairing. The rest of the cast play their part but nobody else really stands out.
A cast of this size however breeds problems. The film features double figures of central characters as several plotlines are twisted around the exotic hotel. These stories don’t always play out their full course however, as some are given too much time, whilst others not enough. There isn’t even any room to remedy this, as the film is already too long. A film of this relaxed nature is better suited to ninety minutes rather than over two hours. There is a definite lull of interest in the middle section which could be streamlined.
This isn’t to say that the stories aren’t enjoyable. The film is on one hand a tale of life and family, and on the other, is the cheeriest film about death I’ve ever seen. The Second Best Exotic is an easy watch, being enjoyable without making you work for it. The stories are tied up by Patel’s smiling face and feature some brilliant dad-dancing from Nighy and Pickup.
Take your mom, take your dad, take your grandparents. They’ll enjoy it and so will you. If you can get the slight tinge of colonialism out of your mouth, then the charming British collective will warm your heart, without holding a place within it.