There is nothing remotely second best about the highly anticipated sequel to the charming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which was released in 2011. The cast of that movie included Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel and Maggie Smith. They are all back plus some of the other members of that original cast. Newcomers Richard Gere, David Strathairn and Tamsin "Episodes" Greig have been added.
"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" takes up a short time after the first film ended. Sonny Kapoor (Patel) is so pleased by the success of his hotel that he plans to expand with another building. He and his new co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Smith), take off for San Diego to try to enlist some American investors in his ideas.
They get a statement of interest from a company but they also get word that someone from the company will be inspecting the property. When Guy Chambers (Gere) shows up at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny is sure he is the "spy". He goes out of his way to charm him, ignoring the other new guest Lavinia Beech (Greig). Sonny also has his upcoming wedding to be concerned about, but the hotel business takes top priority.
Life goes on with the other guests and love is in the air. The most obvious potential couple is Evelyn and Douglas (Dench and Nighy). You can tell they have feelings for each other but neither is able to declare them. A subtle romance of this type is amazingly endearing when presented by actors as skilled as these two.
The entire movie is endearing, moving from one heartfelt situation to the next. And each and every one of the actors involved is at the top of his/her game whether it be a star such as Dench, or a "cameo" presenter such as Gere. They all make an impression and linger with you long after the film has ended.
But of course when you have Maggie Smith in a movie you can't tear your eyes away from her. As Muriel she is the heart, soul and brain of the film. She is witty, warm, wonderful and a million other flattering adjectives. Smith stole the original film and she keeps this one within her clutches too.
Younger audiences might look askance at a film concerning senior love but if they stay away for that reason they will be the losers. This is a story and a movie for all ages. It will hold your attention as you relearn and grow to be fascinated anew by this colorful collection of characters.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is first rate entertainment that should be seen at the very first opportunity.
I scored "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" a blooming 8 out of 10.
Jackie K. Cooper