Set eight or so months after the end of the first film, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is thriving under the joint management of Muriel (Maggie Smith) and Sonny (Dev Patel). In fact the hotel is mostly full, the ruinous parts are almost completely renovated, and the two have come to the United States seeking venture capital to acquire another property. Entrepreneur Ty Burley (David Strathairn) is interested and tells them he will send an anonymous inspector to examine the present operation.
While hyperactive Sonny, with his unerring ability to choose wrongly the first time in any situation, seems to be doing everything possible to screw up both the deal and his upcoming marriage to Sunaina (Tina Desai), much of the rest of the interwoven plot deals with the evolving relationships of Evelyn (Judi Dench), Douglas (Bill Nighy), Madge (Celia Imrie), and Ronald (Norman Cousins), who all seem to have come to their feet and begun to deal with life again. How they work out their challenges and choices makes for a very sweet story with a mostly optimistic ending—and if not optimistic, at least contented—even for perennial wet sock Jean Ainsley (Penelope Wilton). There are some interesting twists in the plot, not least being an expanded role for Sonny’s formidable mother (Lillete Dubey), who hits the love interest jackpot when she attracts the attention of new character American Guy Chambers (Richard Gere).
Mostly, it’s an opportunity to see a lot of wonderful actors exhibit their decades of skill and experience, which is a joy to watch. (Once again, it’s also an opportunity to observe the difference between an American “star” and a British character actor. Good as he is, the smooth-faced and handsome Gere has essentially one expression of mild amusement. On the other hand, Nighy can run through more expression in five seconds than Gere does in the whole movie. Therefore, even though Nighy resembles a twitchy scarecrow next to Gere, his character is both more interesting and more charming--.)
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