TL;DR – A hyper-specific film that, while charming at times, also feels locked in a time long past.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film
Book Club Review –
There are many reasons to watch a film, and if I am going to be completely honest with you, the one we are watching today probably would not have been the one I would have picked. I could say that this is all a part of my trying to broaden the films I watch, which I am. But the truth is that I have to see the sequel tomorrow for a review, and it felt like this was one of those films where you need the context before proceeding. It is not the best reason for watching a film, but it is also by far not the worst.
So to set the scene, for over 40 years, through marriages, divorces, deaths, children, and hotel remodelling, four women, Vivian (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) have all come together each month for a book club. Each of them is at a precipice in their lives as new or old things come crashing in. It is within this world that Vivian chooses Fifty Shades of Grey and their world changes.
This was an interesting film to explore because it might be the furthest away from what I would have watched or, indeed, my personal experiences. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the film being very of its time, living in that window when Fifty Shades of Grey was at the heart of the zeitgeist in a way it no longer is. But then those ladies know how to do a cheese plater, so there must be some connection there.
Book Club might be the first film I have watched since maybe Top End Wedding, where the vast majority of the plot would not have happened if people knew how to put their phones and tablets on silent. But you get the feeling early on in the film that these are old friends, not just people pretending to be. I don’t know if that is true or not in real life, but it was the energy they brought to the production. A strong supporting cast helps this, and it is hard for Andy García not to be charming.
I am unsure if this was intentional, but there is a deep low point in the narrative. There is a point when one character slips the other a drug without their consent which the film mostly plays off for a laugh even though it is deeply uncomfortable. Strong professional women suddenly falling to bits at the sight of a man just because they read a book is an odd position unless you are fully committing like Pleasantville. Also, this is a film that throughs subtly out the window. However, for all that, you do feel that they still stick the landing.
In the end, do we recommend Book Club? Well, yes and no. This is a film that I think some people may enjoy, but it has a very narrow window that they are targeting. It might be interesting to watch as it captures a moment in time quite well, even if that moment fizzled out. If you liked Book Club, we would recommend to you Emma.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Book Club
Directed by – Bill Holderman
Written by – Bill Holderman & Erin Simms
Music by – Peter Nashel
Cinematography by – Andrew Dunn
Edited by – Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Production/Distribution Companies – June Pictures, Endeavor Content & Paramount Pictures
Starring – Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy García, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Dreyfuss, Alicia Silverstone, Katie Aselton, Ed Begley Jr., Wallace Shawn, Lili Bordán, Tommy Dewey & Mircea Monroe
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 0; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13
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