2 Stars – Entertaining
The sequel of John Madden and Ol Parker’s film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an engaging tale. The ensemble cast continues to be its strength as well as the culturally rich setting of India in which it is filmed. Like most sequels, it is best viewed after seeing the first film.
The central characters are Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) and Sunaina (Tina Desai) whose love continues its tumultuous journey. But this is not a tale of a young couple’s love so much as it is several love-tales all woven together into a single tapestry. What makes it even more intriguing is that the hotel guests become a family and the love tales are primarily of the elderly residents.
This film begins when Sonny and Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) come to the United States to pitch the idea of expanding their hotel franchise to a second location. The company to whom they appeal for investment is led by Ty Burley (David Strathairn) who informs them that a special investigator will be sent undercover to inspect the hotel.
This intrigue provides the movement of the tale, but it is only a small part of the overall appeal of the story. With unique roles that are both humorous and touching, we watch Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Densch) and Douglas Ainslie (Bill Highy) dance around their love, Carol Parr (Diana Hardcastle) and Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) struggle with suspicion and distrust, and Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) find love in an unexpected place. Enriching the tale are Guy Chambers (Richard Gere), Lavinia Beech (Tamsin Greig) and Sonny’s mother (Lillette Dubey).
Although entertaining with some wonderful dance scenes and touching relational moments, the lack of moral and spiritual depth is obvious within the lives of the characters. For this glaring omission in the characters’ lives and development, what could have been a far better film is simply entertaining.
- The charming fallibility of Sonny weaves a comic tension into the tale. Did you find this character believable? Why or why not?
- The desire to be a financial success is what seems to drive Sonny more so than his love for Sunaina. Do you believe this was true of him or was his desire to provide for her and their life together what drove him to succeed?
- The relationship between Chambers and the woman he seduces was built on such a lie that the script needed to have him resign from his job in order to bring some integrity to his character. Did you find that satisfying? Why or why not?