Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ (2015)

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, overstuffed like a frenetically busy street in Mumbai, is short on narrative and richly heavy on the theme of aging. The movie’s predecessor, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, focused on the eruptive Uranian surge that sparked a light in a group of retirees to live out the rest of their days more economically in Jaipur, India. The sequel – both movies are directed by John Madden – is suffused with the Saturnine Senex, Father Time, the symbol of endings, who enmeshes himself with youth. It’s a strong statement about the power of legacy as elders contemplate leaving something of value behind for posterity.

We join the gang, pretty much intact. Eager-to-please fledgling hotel entrepreneur Sonny (Dev Patel) has upped his game. He has partnered with the movie’s pungent Wise Woman, Muriel (Maggie Smith), to seek American dollars from Ty, an investor (David Strathairn), to open the Second Best Exotic. Sonny is also preparing rather inattentively for his wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desae). Paralleling the issues of this young engaged couple are the adolescent-type scenarios involving Douglas (Bill Nighy) who’s still too shy to reveal his affections for Evelyn (Judi Dench), the puerile grass-is-always-greener urges of Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diane Hardcastle), and the lonely Madge’s (Celia Imrie) attempts to find a wealthy mate.

Into the mix floats Guy (Richard Gere) – he just might be the hotel inspector that Sonny knows is scheduled to anonymously visit – who has his eye on Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey).

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Marigold2 depicts these old-timers’ struggles with expressing deep feelings and making critical elder choices, actions which are, for the most part, marginalized by media in characters of this age group.

It’s hardly surprising that Muriel’s spiritual soul mate is Ty, who believes that the older years are opportunities for life and a chance to seed for growth – Jupiterian expansion coupled with Saturnine durability and perseverance – that the sower will likely never see. The riotously colorful wedding at the movie’s conclusion, which does not stint on ritual, is the counterpart to the more shaded yet earthy hues that paint the lives of the older guests.

Archetype: Old Age. Legacy. Mentors. Longevity. Wisdom. Endings.

Astrology Archetype: ♃ ♄ (Jupiter, Saturn)

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