Turn Up And See: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Turn up and see is a new project where at least once a fortnight I turn up at a cinema and ask for “a ticket to the next film being shown”, and then write up my experience of the movie and also the general experience of the cinema itself as a whole.

It was a bright yet crisp March day as I wandered down to the Reel Cinema in Plymouth, from the outside you can tell this cinema is somewhat stuck in a time warp, this is not helped by the fog of cigarette smoke you have to go through as you walk outside the bingo hall next door. Once inside the cinema is much like any other dated cinema which has not had much in the way of renovation since the sixties, dilapidated and musty. Queuing for the desk to buy a ticket I noticed the line of old people before me, and solely judging on the clientele I came to the conclusion I was in for a treat, and my golly wasn’t I right, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was “The next film being shown”. Following a kerfuffle with £5 minimum spend rules, I began the climb up the steps towards to screen, being old and lacking in accessibility features, the climb was incredibly slow and painful, as I was behind a small herd of old people. It’s worth noting here that the toilets at this cinema are fantastic, they have pink porcelain sinks and have clearly had no work done to them in years, it is like something from an Inspector George Gently movie!

We were in screen 1, it was a large room, not dissimilar to the auditorium of an old theatre, I decided to climb up to the rear section of the seats so as to have space to myself, and picked out one of the incredibly dated and marginally uncomfortable seats. Sitting high up I took in my surroundings, a sea of blue rinse sat before me like a congregation and with incredible irony the pre-show music that began playing was “Gangsters Paradise”, it was at this point I realised I was the youngest person in the room, by about 40 years. We then sat through a small selection of trailers before settling down for the movie, an air of anticipation washed over the waiting crowd, and as the curtain came up the room went silent.

In two words I would sum the film up as “heart-warming”, it was a relatively feel good film overall, but there was an undercurrent of older people who’re very aware of their mortality and at times it was a bit sad. I had not seen “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (the film before this one) so I really had no clue as to what was going on half the time, I also had no clue to the fact that, I’ve since found out, they are a group of old Brits who moved to India to live out their old lives in a place more affordable than England, and that they all have burgeoning sex lives that are mildly intertwined. I feel having not-seen the first film makes it hard to get into the story as the first half an hour is as much a catch-up with the characters as it is setting up for the story in this film, and that would explain why I was so fidgety at first (either that or the mildly uncomfortable very old seats that were falling apart). The cast was full of friendly faces including Dev Patel, Bill Nighy, Judy Dench and Maggie Smith there was also the amusing involvement of Tamsin Greig, most loved by me for her role in Black Books, and as such seeing her sober and without a cigarette hanging out of her mouth took a little while to get over! The cast worked well together, and it was nice to see the connections and friendships they clearly had off-set work together within the film too.

The film had a very loose plot revolving around two different events, firstly a hotel inspector visiting to decide if a large American firm would invest in the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” to enable expansion, and the preparations for Sonny and Sunaina’s upcoming wedding and the frictions between running a business and being a good partner. This worked alongside the various sub-plots between each of the characters, for a film with so many different yet intertwined very loose-plots it was remarkably easy to keep track of what was going on with each person at each time which is a credit to the production company. There are also various windings throughout the film that lead to the progression of the movie, the expected ups and downs of businesses and relationships,making up most of them. My main criticism is just the lack of real direction, the film is bright and colourful with a brilliant cast, but the actual overall plot is very loose and the focus is more on being happy and overwhelmingly cute than on actually ensuring there is a focused and well created plot. The Bollywood wedding sequence at the end pushed me over the edge, it was 30 minutes of: happy events, bright colours and dancing, for me it was a little too much.

On the whole to movie is very watch-able, and if you would like to go and see old people frolic and dance and a frantic hotel owner run around freaking out about hotel inspectors and the arrival of an old once-friend whom he has some unexplained history with, then I recommend it! It’s a very colourful film with various things going for it, predominantly including the cast and smiles, just do not go in expected to be amazed. Overall I would categorise it as a nice film rather than a good film.


Cinema 4/10 (gains points for awesome retro-ness, loses points for being a bit grim and under looked-after, also £5 minimum spend? Serious?)

Film 5/10


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