Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. United Kingdom/USA, 2015. Babieka, Blueprint Pictures. Screenplay by Ol Parker. Cinematography by Ben Smithard. Produced by Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Martin Childs. Costume Design by Riyaz Ali Merchant. Film Editing by Victoria Boydell.
The surprise runaway box office success of the first film draws the entire cast back to India for another visit to the titular establishment, where retired Brits on a fixed income can live their last days in a kind of luxury that England could never provide. Judi Dench is now established as a purchaser for a fabric company, Maggie Smith concerns herself with running the hotel with the enterprising Dev Patel, Celia Imrie is caught between two lovers and Bill Nighy is a tour guide who still has yet to declare his affection for Dench. The central premise around which it all revolves is Patel’s wedding to the beautiful Tina Desai, and his ambitions to expand the business and take over a bigger building, hitting a road block with the appearance of handsome Shazad Latif who threatens both ventures. It’s a film crowded with incident but creates far too little drama given how much it spreads out the climaxes with all of its characters. While it places greater focus on its Indian characters and allows them to be more than just local colour as in the first entry, this one acts like it is placing its heart ardently into every single person’s conflict but few of them pay off to great satisfaction, the effect confusing and a tad bit hysterical. The actors are still terrific and the imagery even more beautiful than the last time, but for the most part it just feels like an excuse to inspire the box office than anything else.