There is only thing you can do with a film that collided crochety old people from Britain with a particularly upstart and chirpy young man from Jaipur, India, called Sonny Kapoor, and let the twain meet, with success. Have a wedding. And hint at a few more.
‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ has little in terms of a story except that, and Richard Gere. The wedding involves engagement (with a dance), sangeet (without a dance), and the shaadi itself (with the biggest dance). In the middle, the characters in various stages of geriatric despair move hesitatingly or march purposefully towards their true loves.
They include, of course, the charming Evelyn (Dench) and Douglas (Nighy), who haven’t gotten past their respective room doors still, the resourceful Madge (Imrie), the lustful Norman (Pickup), the flirty Carol (Hardcastle), the elusive Chambers (Gere) and the exasperated Mrs Kapoor (Dubey). Mrs Donnelly (Smith) remains resolutely single, but allows herself to seek out the company of others more often. Sonny and Sunaina (Desai) remain in love despite all odds.
Those odds mainly involve Sonny seeking to expand his business, and an admirer of Sunaina putting up obstacles in the way. Patel, who is just about tolerable in his enthusiastic Indian act, goes off the handle here in his ambition. And not in a good way.
It’s good for the film then that it’s not really about him at all. Or about two different civilisations. Or about India. Or about old age even. It’s about good people finding love. And dancing while at it.