The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel    John Madden    2015

When I reviewed the first film (6/6/12) I expressed enthusiasm for its interest in character and its concern for real conversations between characters.  People actually sat down and talked to each other and listened.  Key dialogues did not occur running up and down stairs or dashing along sidewalks with background noises apparently designed to defy the viewer to hear anything being said.  The opening thirty to forty-five minutes of this Marigold Hotel betrays those strong points.  We don’t have car chases, but the film does open with Maggie Smith in a speeding vehicle.  And we come near speed chases featuring Indian three-wheelers.  There is much rapid-fire dialogue among diverse characters in a lot of choppy scenes.  But though there will later will be explosions  —  of fireworks and music  — the film finally settles down and allows us to become involved with its people.

The story is again about loneliness, loneliness more often than not the result of people not speaking their hearts.  Such loneliness is shown as an experience of the aged and aging but is echoed here in the young couple, Sonny and Sunaina, played by Dev Patel and Tina Desai.  Kushai, Patel’s best friend and perceived rival, is played by Shazad Latie.  Sonny’s mother, another self-chooser of loneliness, is beautifully played by the beautiful Lilette Dubey.

I thought the characters Evelyn and Douglas, played again by Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, different this time.  I found their repeated hesitances and unsurenesses tiring, and I found myself wondering this time around what they saw so attractive in each other.  Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup continue as Madge and Norman; and Penelope Wilton is still splendidly shrewish as Douglas’ shrewish ‘s wife.  Diana Hardcastle contributes a positive presence as Douglas’ daughter Carol. The original story and characters needed no added class, but Richard Gere  and David Strathairn bring it.

Maggie Smith as acerbic Muriel remains the most likeable of the characters as well as the loneliest  —  and the one most at peace with herself.

The Dev Patel persona is once again perfectly cast.  And he shows that he can swivel his hips and  —   in Ethel Waters’ words  —  shake that thing in the interest of the obligatory Bollywood dance at the film’s conclusion.

My collaborator BKG points out that India is not a character in this film as it so colorfully is in the first.

NEXT Friday POST June 19
Until then,
See you at the movies,

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