Film review by Jason Day of Book Club, the comedy about a group of mature women who up the ante of their stale book club by reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Starring Diane Keaton, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen.
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A group of Co-Ed girls have graduated and become leading lights in their own special way. Widow Diane (Diane Keaton) had a lovely, comfortable marriage that produced two lovely daughters. Free spirited Vivian (Jane Fonda) has never experienced love but has had a wild sex life for the past 40-odd years. Sharon (Candice Bergen) studied law is now a Judge, but is still effected by the divorce from her first husband (Ed Begley Jr.) many years before. Former waitress and middle-class matriarch supreme Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is still a homemaker but struggles to keep the flame of love alive with her kind but romantically uninterested husband (Craig T. Nelson).
They meet up on an infrequent basis to drink wine and discuss life as part of their Book Club. Dissatisified with their personal lives, Vivian decided to inject some much needed oomph and suggests they read notorious mummy S&M porn novel 50 Shades of Grey. The results are hilarious…and surprising for all.
Review, by Jason Day
After seeing this starry women’s comedy and umpteen starry vehicles over the past few weeks, it might be time to pay a few paragraphs of credit and celebrate the role of the people who get actors on board in films.
Obviously I’m talking about casting agents and not casting couches. Given the terrific drive of the #MeToo campaign to name and shame Hollywood sexual predators, it looks like the couch is finally being chucked out in the trash.
The people (more correctly, profession) we should focus on after being comparatively neglected in film discussion is the casting agent. They not only select the right actors from a variety of agencies across the board, sometimes from only a vague description in a script or email, but have to work closely with producers to make sure everyone is available at exactly the right moment.
Not easy when the people you are casting are as top drawer as the lead quartet in this frothy, fun if not hugely original ‘later years’ sex comedy. So, hats off to the casting teams here for assembling four women who have a sum total of 4 Oscar wins and another 9 nominations between them.
This is a throbbingly, sun kissed beautiful L.A. set fantasy, similar to the Nancy Myers/Charles Shyers type of movie (As Good As It Gets and Somethings Gotta Give that incidentally starred Keaton). And you know it’s a fantasy because we have a scene in which four women over the age of 60 hit the streets to go shopping together.
All of them of been slotted into roles that they have fitted like a glove in countless films before. Are the actors slipping into mannerism? Or are we witnessing sublimely skilful and comfortable and confident playing?
- Keaton is the cooky, ditzy, worrisome won
- Fonda is the older, sexy, singleton nymphet
- Bergen is the strident, career obsessed feminist
- Steenburgen the sweet, winsome, domestic, but intelligent one.
It goes without saying that all of them look incredible as well.
You’ll be able to spot the one liners from a mile off but who cares when all hit the mark with aplomb.
But, with her 10 years in the hit comedy Murphy Brown under her belt, Bergen as the sarcastic professional lady gets the lions share of cooly bitchy dialogue. It’s the best performance but, with a script that hardly pushes the boat out, it isn’t difficult for her to excel.
In the supporting cast, its great to see Andy Garcia as Keaton’s pilot lover and Alicia Silverstone as her over protective daughter back on the big screen in tones of prominence.
Cast & credits
Director: Bill Holderman. 1hr 44 min (104 min). Apartment Story/June Pictures/Paramount. (12a).
Producers: Andrew Duncan, Bill Holderman, Alex Saks, Erin Simms.
Writers: Bill Holderman, Erin Simms.
Camera: Andrew Dunn.
Music: Peter Nashel.
Sets: Rachel O’Toole.
Diane Keaton, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley Jr., Wallace Shawn.