Film review ‘Book Club’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Befitting its innocuous title, Book Club, the directorial debut for Walk in the Woods writer Bill Holderman, is a wafer thin but amiable senior citizen rom-com. The film would probably evaporate if not for its wonderful all-star cast which features Dianne Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen as well as Craig T. Nelson, Richard Dreyfus, Ed Begley Jr and Don Johnson.

Heading toward 70, four women: sassy Vivian (Jane Fonda), folksy Diane (Diane Keaton) no-nonsense Federal judge Sharon (Candace Bergen) and slightly ditzy Carol (Mary Steenburgen) have, as a result of divorce, career commitments, failing relationships or even their husbands’ death, found themselves alone. In one of the less credible plot lines of recent times, their book club reading of Fifty Shades of Grey inspires them to dip their toes into the dating pool or to spice up their marriage.

This is all just a tenuous set-up for a mildly quirky ‘women behaving badly’ scenario as the book club members have dalliances with various men and have to deal with problems this creates. Diane’s flirtation with the suave Mitchel (Andy Garcia) elicits a horrified reaction from her over-protective daughters (Alicia Silverstone and Katie Asleton) who don’t want their mother doing anything other than retiring to an isolated suburban existence. Vivian and Dianne stumble through relationships with two men (Don Johnson and Wallace Shawn) while Carol tries to resurrect her mid-life crisis suffering husband’s (Craig T Nelson) wilting libido.

Much of the humour comes from each of these venerable women getting themselves into vaguely embarrassing situations. It’s mostly tepid and predictable but seeing such a revered quartet as these women working together is still a treat. Each has an opportunity to display at least some of the indelible qualities that have made them such enjoyable performers over the years.

It’s very fluffy but Book Club has enough charm to make it tolerable. As a bonus the film features a remarkably good soundtrack with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Roxy Music.

Nick’s rating: **1/2

Genre: Romantic comedy.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Bill Holderman.

Release date: 23rd Aug 2018.

Running time: 104 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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