BOOK CLUB

A WASTE OF GREAT TALENT

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
19th August 2018

If you’re anything like me, straight out of the gate you'd be wondering why anyone would make a movie about a book whose hype peaked seven years ago. And to make matters worse, in the film the book they read just before attacking Mr Grey and his sexual proclivities, is ‘Wild’, yet anther book that scaled the charts six years ago. Good lord, these gals are behind the times. What’s next, ‘The Da Vinci Code’? I know, I know, I’m nit-picking. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is simply the MacGuffin in this tale, but it just sets the film off on a bad note, making it so... irrelevant from the word go.

So, Diane (Diane Keaton, 'Hampstead', 'Love the Coopers', 'Annie Hall'), Vivian (Jane Fonda, Netflix's 'Grace and Frankie', 'This Is Where I Leave You', 'Barbarella'), Sharon (Candice Bergen, TV's 'Murphy Brown', 'Home Again') and Carol (Mary Steenburgen, TV's 'The Last Man on Earth' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', 'Back to the Future Part III') have all been best friends since college and also have a long-standing book club. This month, the perpetually single, highly successful, sexually vivacious Vivian (think the Samantha of the group) suggests ‘Fifty Shades a Grey’ in an effort to make the other women realise that while they are “old” they’re not dead, and are in desperate need of bringing the sex and passion back into their lives. Like a pair of magical jeans, this month’s book sees new men and ideas enter the women’s lives. Newly-widowed Diane meets pilot Mitchell (Andy Garcia, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’) and explores a new romance while balancing that with her overprotective daughters. Vivian reconnects with old flame/the one that got away, Arthur (Don Johnson, ‘The Other Woman’). Sharon experiments with online dating with varied success, and Carol tries desperately to reignite the flame between herself and her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelsen, ‘Incredibles 2’).

'BOOK CLUB' TRAILER

Even at a healthy hour and 44 minutes, ‘Book Club’ feels like it’s been slashed and stitched, leaving oodles on the editing room floor - those oodles being the parts that give the film air, flow and, you know, sense - Steenburgen’s story baring the brunt of the appalling editing, leaving her scenes constantly feeling like you’ve missed something. Yet none of the four stories feel complete, with each one meandering through the motions and clichéd moments.

While I applaud Hollywood making a film staring women all of retirement age who are embracing their sexuality, and to top it all off three of the four women are partnered with men younger than them (woo!) - it just, well, stinks. These are four of the most iconic women in cinema, and they deserved sooooooo much better. For a comedy, the laughs are few and far between, provided mostly by goddess Candy Bergen and her sharp wit, and one scene watching Diane Keaton doggy-paddling off an inflatable swan had me slapping my knee. Still, at almost two hours long, that’s not what you want. Even the romance is forced and the emotional breakthroughs that inevitably come about are inorganic, predictable and feel like an afterthought.

First-time director Bill Holderman has proven that he has a lot to learn about women... and comedy... and storytelling.

First-time director Bill Holderman who also serves as co-screenwriter (only the second credit to his name) has proven that he has a lot to learn about women... and comedy... and storytelling. Harsh but fair. He squandered this opportunity working with these incredible women, with lifetimes of experience behind them. This film should have been an amazing collaborative effort, but instead it plays like paycheques and someone getting getting their hands wet.

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