Film review – Book Club

posted in: Acting, Film review, Hollywood, writing | 0

Ever since it was released in June, I’ve been looking forward to seeing this film. And I really, really wanted to love it.

I applaud the film makers for addressing the somewhat taboo subject of sex and the older woman (‘senior sex’, I believe is the correct term… ugh!) and for examining female friendships and trying to be subversive. Sadly, the movie just didn’t work for me.

Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton all star in Book Club – 4 wonderful, distinguished, older actors who I admire. I have grown up with Jane Fonda – she taught me about ‘feeling the burn’, aerobics, eating disorders, pink leg warmers, politics and acting. I love her in Grace and Frankie with the super funny Lily Tomlin, and her performance in Book Club is excellent too. But the script? The pretentious, ornate settings that look as if they’ve come straight out of Homes and Gardens? Nope.

The four immaculately dressed, white, middle-class women play characters who meet up regularly over a glass or two of wine, lots of designer food, in a spankingly clean kitchen that my whole house could squeeze into. But then it is the US. The women read and then discuss a book, just as we do in our book group. This month their book of choice is  EL James’s ’50 Shades of Grey’.

Which, dear reader, I have never read.

This reading of said book provides lots of comedy moments that aren’t funny (so I suppose it’s not comedy then is it?) And of course catapults the women into a series of  predictable  life-choices that we are led to believe they wouldn’t have made if they had not read this book. Oh for goodness sake. This is insulting and embarrassing. And not funny. Sorry, said that before. But I am so disappointed by this film.

Throw in Don Johnson (who I used to love in Miami Vice) and Andy Garcia as the very, very rich love interests. Craig T Nelson and Richard Dreyfuss provide back up. And then what? Puerile jokes about Viagra and sexual innuendos and you have one very pretty, but pretty naff film.

I love the fact that this is a film about older women being outrageous, and why not? Let’s have more of this. And it is refreshing having older women at the centre of the narrative demonstrating how book clubs/groups can be a springboard for strong friendships and lots of fun (so can running groups!)

Allegedly the creators of Book Club ended up making the film independently as the Hollywood big boys were only interested if the characters could be rewritten to be in their forties! As usual, the business is driven by youth and beauty, so good on the producers for doing it themselves.

However, the reality is this: our book group meet in a dark corner of our local pub, I usually look as if I’ve just been pulled through a hedge backwards by the time I get there, we are all tired and have been at work. We discuss our chosen book, suffering the aroma of chips and microwaved chilli con carne, while sipping our chosen tipple, surrounded by real people having fun. We have yet to discuss any relationship or sexual problems, maybe we’re missing something…But isn’t that a different sort of group?

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