The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: The Stakes Are Raised, And So Is the Romance


Beyond its blindingly colorful palette, the pleasures to be gleaned from the sequel to the 2012 hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel derive from watching its eminent, mostly British cast ham it up while trying to inflate dramatic molehills into mountains. To get away with pretending that less is more, strenuous overacting is required.

But for die-hard Anglophiles whose hearts go pitter-pat over actresses awarded the title Dame, it won’t really matter what the film’s most famous returnees say or do, as long as they chew the scenery. Leading the list are Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, peddling their irresistible brands of British hauteur.

But be warned: If you haven’t seen the first Marigold, adapted from a novel by Deborah Moggach, you may find it difficult to figure out who’s who and what’s what in the seriously overpopulated The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Because there’s no explanatory prelude in the sequel, you wouldn’t know, for instance, that most of the characters are financially stressed Britons, recruited to spend their sunset years in Jaipur, India, at a residential hotel that is much less splendid than advertised. After much grumbling and backbiting, they become a semi-happy extended family embarked on improbable romantic adventures.

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