The second outing in the Marigold continues the formula of feel good wish fulfilment of growing old in the East. However after a problematic opening the pic gradually recaptures the warmth and charm of the original.
As the film opens Muriel (Smith) is now a fully fledged partner to the over enthusiastic Sonny (Patel), hence the first sequence involving Vegas, Route 66 and an opportunity to build the second hotel. Back in Jaipur, Evelyn’s (Dench) career is blossoming as an advisor to a silk merchant, whilst the twitchy, now under researched tour guide Douglas (Nighy) sans his nagging, complaining wife Jean (Wilton), still has the unrequited hots for Evelyn. Sonny and Suneina’s (Tina Desai) wedding approaches, and clearly drama awaits. The arrival of Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig to replace Tom Wilkinson offers up another predictable storyline, saved from saccharine by the performers.
The pleasures to saviour amidst the fairytale, are clearly the performances, primarily Smith and Dench who are a joy to watch. This time Smith takes on the narration duties, that a less frequent than the original and the film arguably suffers from a vague point of view as the filmmakers attempt to explore then tie-up multiple story-lines.
John Madden who rose to prominence with the Gwyneth Paltrow helmer Shakespeare in Love, has previously worked with Dench on the excellent Mrs Brown. Madden an actors director works effortlessly with a talented ensemble. For example the introduction of a romance between Gere and Suneina’s mother (Lillete Dubey from The Lunchbox) potentially cliche ridden, works due to the sparks Madden elicits from the two leads.
Thomas Newman returns to score the proceedings and the Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood dance number at the films end provides a happily ever after ton Madden and co are aiming for. Even a character arch that threatens to send the Octogenarians weeping from the cinema is cleverly avoided in favour of mirth and merriment.