Image: Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen in Book Club © Photograph by Melinda Sue Gordon. Property of Paramount Pictures [Source: IMDB]
Four lifelong friends who have made a monthly habit of meeting up for a book club. Find themselves obsessed and seeing their lives differently in old age after reading 50 Shades of Grey. The four women try to take back control of their lives and their sexuality in an age range that doesn’t always allow that.
Director: Bill Holderman. Starring: Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson [12A]
Book Club is the golden oldies flick we’ve come to expect in every regard. Helming the story is Jane Fonda, bringing her usual raw tenacity to an otherwise stale role, that seems to be repurposing the character from her series Grace & Frankie. However, humorously the narrative is unsure who its main character is. Opening the story’s flashbacks is a narration from Diane Keaton pitting the focus of the film on her. But then the narrative trails off in so many different directions, none of which capture our attention as much as Jane Fonda’s character who possesses the most depth. Which even then it’s about as deep as the message of this film, which is just straightforwardly – old people should live their lives to the fullest.
While it’s an admirable message it is undersold by treating some of this film as an advert to sell 50 Shades of Grey to the older generation. Despite the scandalous book they use to inspire sexual exploration, the film lacks any edge and quickly shapes itself back into the cookie cutter approach to these kinds of narratives. Influencing the comedy featured also, while there are certainly many chuckles to be had and fun to share. It is fluffy and lacking taste with numerous moments that could have easily given way to more universal and becoming comedy.
Furthermore, that approach means that the relationships in the story as well the general characters are insincere and feel fake. Some characters being infuriatingly nonsensical, acting purely in an irrational manner to further the plot. The same way some characters that exhibit a deeper message to explore are quickly put to rest in favour of big romantic moments that we can see coming from the moment the title card appears. None are sweeping or have emotional weight to them because the loosely strung together stories lack focus and meaning, attention called more to the shoddy filmmaking.
Book Club is a soft and cushioned, cookie cutter golden oldie flick with some laughs to be had and certainly some fun for the right audience. But lacks any weight or emotional arousing, leading to its lacklustre narrative and loosely strung together filmmaking to be called attention to. Book Club will be forgotten as soon as you’ve left the cinema.