The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel's Effortless Charm


It’s a widely known notion that sequels are almost never better than the originals. If that were the case with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, then I’m glad I still have the first one to look forward to, because this sequel was already quite pleasant to watch.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (It’s a mouthful, I know).


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (TBEMH) is a bit unorthodox. It's a hotel that's more affection-based than service-based. Its allure is in its community and the bond it fosters with its elderly residents. The hotel created a new family for the tenants, which is why “no one ever leaves”. Well, until they make the permanent check-out. (Why does that sound funnier when they say it in the movie?) But while the idea of such a hotel is intriguing in itself, the heart of this British comedy is in the fascinating relationships between its people.


Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), the hotel’s proprietor, juggles his time trying to put up his second hotel and preparing for his imminent wedding. Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) and Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) have a will they or wont they story going on. Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) has too many suitors for her own good. Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) freaks out because he may have accidentally put a hit on his girlfriend, Carol Parr (Diana Hardcastle). Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) is the hotel’s new resident and is really just being his usual easy-going, panty-melting self.  And Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), who tries her best not to care about anyone’s business, ironically ends up having a little to do with everyone’s story.

“The man is so handsome, he has me urgently questioning my own sexuality!”

There’s no grand plot in the movie, no big, dramatic element, no extravagant, out of this world visual effects. What it had though was a modest examination of the lives and relationships of some endearing personalities. Various stories that really just tell us that a lot can still happen in your golden years and that one can never be too old to live and love. And for me, that was surely enough.

I will not spoil how their stories play out, but know that it was amusing throughout. I thought it was funny, romantic, melodramatic, and in the end, genuinely heartwarming. And it took very little effort for this cast to be charming. I may not know all of their credentials, but I’m pretty sure they’ve all been around for quite some time (no, I’m not alluding to their age). It’s clear that they have more talent in their little finger than most Hollywood celebrities these days.

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Maggie Smith was fun to watch with her naturally cranky, old, woman demeanor. If Mark Strong is the go-to bad guy, Maggie Smith is the go-to grumpy granny. She and Judy Drench’s back and forth was hella amusing. You could feel their mutual respect emanating even within their snarky dialogue. And just the fact that two women of this acting caliber are having at it is already a delightful treat!


Bill Nighy kept the movie earnest. His speech in the end had a profound effect even on someone as young as me. Ronald Pickup nailed most of the movie’s comedic material. His accidental assassination deal was just hilarious!


But Dev Patel was the show stealer for me. I absolutely loved his aura! Who knew he could be that funny? He’s a great dramatic actor, but this energetic, comical (albeit, sometimes clueless) Dev Patel is a welcome change of pace. His astonishing flair for words only compliments that enthusiasm. Even beside such big stars, Dev Patel proved he could shine just as bright.

Does everyone in India know how to dance?

All the relationship snafu was made more enjoyable with the glorious India backdrop. I have honestly never had any interest of seeing India, but now I do. I absolutely must go there while I can. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel almost felt like a tourism video (ala ‘More Fun In The Philippines’), showcasing a lot of country and colorful culture. It was beautiful. And it served to make the film feel more grandiose.

Richard Gere doing Bollywood is enough reason to watch.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel effortlessly exudes charm. Its powerhouse cast delivers excellent Brit wit and elderly banter while also providing sincerity when it counts. Also, not to be demeaning or anything, but old people are just so sweet and cute, and that couldn’t be more evident than in this film. With a lush India backdrop, watching this film will leave you stumped.


Just like the hotel itself, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does not concern itself too much in its technicality, but more with the affection and connections it builds with its lovely characters. It reminds us all that it’s never too late and you can never be too old and that in the end, all that's needed is for you to say, ‘this is what I want’.


* First seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles!

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