Friday, 27 February 2015

REVIEW - THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (JOHN MADDEN)


If as much time was spent in the making of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as any other film, as much money invested into its production, as many frames of film as any of its length, as many soundwaves as depart the cinema speakers and land upon our eardrums, why is it that there seems to be so much less to say about it? What is it that makes this kind of art so seemingly unartistic? The images upon those frames communicate only what they appear to communicate, the words that are spoken by its inhabiting figures the same, the musical score acts as an intensifier or a signifier but never a source of meaningful enrichment. It's inoffensive, and fairly loathsome for being so inoffensive. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel very nearly topples its predecessor from its lowly perch of ignominy as it appears to rest upon a running theme of wealthy white English people emigrating to India to rob locals of their livelihoods, and of celebrating this as an excellent way to find employment for the elderly. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel doesn't even acknowledge that it's communicating that. It's much too concerned with much too many plot pieces for its own good - John Madden is a director with a lively style about his work, but he's much too literal-minded to be able to mould this screenplay's unwittingly unconventional structure into anything shapely. It's a rather frenetic example of what not to do when developing a franchise - for everything you add, you must take away, even when there's so little to say about a film in the first place. Where this film finally elevates itself, defying expectations set up by Best Exotic #1, is in its sobering acceptance of the solemnity of old age. The casual asides about mortality eventually come to ring truer than they initially did, and the tone of the film's final act is one of modest yet immovable melancholy. There's still nothing particularly artful about that, but I'll admit to not caring - it's this film's sole display of creative credibility, and it's a significant one too.