Director: Bill Holderman
Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley Jr
Written by: Bill Holderman and Erin Simms
Running Time: 104 mins
Release date: 1st June 2018
With the World Cup just around the corner, for most of June and July, blockbusters will be sparse and films aimed at a certain demographic will be flooding our screens, kicking off with Book Club, a film crammed with actors who we have all grown up with, know can produce quality work and are always great value. With four terrific lead actresses, each with handfuls of awards and nominations to their credit, all on screen in one film, what could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot actually.
Four lifelong friends: Diane, a recently widowed woman with two overly protective daughters who want her to move to Arizona; Vivian, a hotel owner; Sharon, a federal judge and Carol, a woman who married her childhood sweetheart yet their marriage has lost the magic. The four meet every month for a book club. Vivian brings a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, hoping the story will liven each of the women’s love life.
First time director Bill Holderman must have thought all his dreams had come true in one go when you look at the cast he has acquired. Along with fellow screenwriter, Erin Simms, they have created a generic, by-the-book romantic comedy for the older woman but forgot one vital ingredient: laughs.
This film follows a well-worn track that has been seen time and time again, going for the old formula of elderly people behaving badly. In this case, four intelligent women being turned into sex maniacs because of a badly written book. Considering these ladies are educated, have built up empires (one owns an exclusive hotel, another owns a restaurant, another is a federal judge) do you actually think they would waste their time on a book like Fifty Shades?
Of course what happens is their love lives start to flourish. Diane meets a pilot, Vivian meets an old flame who proposed forty years ago, Sharon joins a singles website while Carol tries to rekindle the relationship with her husband. Yet while all this is going on, the film fails to raise many laughs, instead, going for innuendo and cheap gags about viagra.
As the film goes through the motions heading for the obvious “happy” ending, the only thing that saves this from complete disaster is the cast giving it everything they’ve got. Diane Keaton still plays everything like she is Annie Hall. Jane Fonda is the vixen and for a woman is almost 81, she manages to pull it off…just. The two who steals the film from everyone are Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, who brings an air of dignity to the proceedings while still showing a sharp comic touch to a film with very little laughs. The male support is not bad either. Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson and Andy Garcia are all fine and realise that this is a female-led film so underplay everything.
The possibilities with this cast could have been endless. Instead, we have a film that limps along, telling us that elderly women can have sex still. It’s one saving grace is that being in the company of such great screen actresses is fun and I hope this isn’t their swan songs. They deserve so much better.