So often when it comes to war films we see the fighter’s side, the politician’s side, the family’s side - and I get it, that’s where the action, the romance and the emotional heartstrings are located. From a storytelling perspective, it’s a goldmine. But not all victims of war saw bombs, bullets and death at their feet. Some simply had to sit back in horror as their loved ones were taken from them one by one overseas or at home. But on the small English island of Guernsey, things were a bit different.
It’s 1946 and England is in recovery mode. After so many years at war, people are still having trouble believing that it’s actually over and also getting used to those little pre-war luxuries returning to their lives. Author Juliet Ashton (Lily James, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Baby Driver’) has written a book that she’s not entirely proud of and about to reluctantly set off on a book tour with her publisher Sidney (Matthew Goode, ‘The Imitation Game’>) in tow. When she receives a surprise letter from Dawsey (Michiel Huisman, ‘Game of Thrones’, '2:22'), a resident on the island of Guernsey, the two begin a correspondence until their shared love of books and the pen pal’s intriguing story about a literary and potato peel pie society drive Juliet to the island to learn more about its members. When she gets there, Juliet quickly learns that there’s much more to the story than a simple book club formed during the occupation, and sets about ingraining herself into everyone’s lives to learn more.
The word du jour here is “intrigue”. ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ is a borderline detective story. With so many players and secrets, the story slowly unfolds itself in order to discover the who, when, where and why; we already know the "where". Steeped in romance, mystery and grief, we finally see a side to war that’s often forgotten or overlooked. Families aren’t the only ones to experience loss and pain in time of war, and London wasn’t the only victim of the Nazis. From a storytelling standpoint, ‘Guernsey’ is compelling. From a historical standpoint, prepare yourselves to learn something more, and of course, something that you didn’t necessarily want to learn about such a devastating time.
Steeped in romance, mystery and grief, we finally see a side to war that’s often forgotten or overlooked.
Lily James is, as always, transfixing. Her beauty, vulnerability and empathy are always a welcome fixture to every role she takes and makes her own. And surrounded by Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Katherine Parkinson, Glen Powell and the very handsome Michiel Huisman, this is one society you want to be a part of.
Daniel recently spoke to ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ director Mike Newell about his connection to the film, connecting with the characters, and what potato peel pie really tastes like - click here to listen to the interview on SWITCHCast now.