Film Review: BOOK CLUB

Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen in BOOK CLUB

Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton & Mary Steenburgen in BOOK CLUB © 2018 Paramount Pictures

Despite its talented cast, BOOK CLUB ultimately fails to deliver on its initial promise

With the final film in the Fifty Shades trilogy heading to DVD next month, a new film about the phenomenon itself hits UK cinemas screens this June.

BOOK CLUB tells the story of four, 60-something friends who meet monthly to discuss books, men and more. While the friends appear relatively content with their career choices, their personal relationships aren’t going so well. Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage, Vivian (Jane Fonda) prefers to enjoy her men with no strings attached, Sharon (Candice Bergen) can’t get over her former husband who divorced her decades ago and Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. But the lives of these four lifelong friends are soon turned upside down when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey, catapulting them into a series of outrageous life choices.

On the surface, BOOK CLUB is exactly what you imagine it to be – a light-hearted rom-com about a group of older women who rediscover love and mischief through their book club. While the trailer for the film puts the focus firmly on Fifty Shades of Grey, the book itself is actually brought up sparingly throughout the film, acting only as the catalyst for the women to embrace their new found sexuality.

Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen in BOOK CLUB.

Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen in BOOK CLUB. © 2018 Paramount Pictures

Bill Holderman and Erin Simms’ script, however, is so jam-packed with sit-com style sexual innuendoes that any sense of relatability is lost along the way. From Steenburgen’s water plant thermometer swinging straight over to “moist” as she reads a steamy sentence to the scene where Candice Bergen takes her cat to the vet only to be told she has a “lethargic pussy”, the cheesy innuendoes don’t seem to stop and the otherwise predictable and clichéd plot is so tame that you wonder why Fifty Shades of Grey was even chosen for the central book.

The big draw of BOOK CLUB, of course, is its incredible quartet of actresses with Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen who – despite their thinly written characters – do have nice chemistry with each other. Fellow veterans Richard Dreyfuss, Andy Garcia and Don Johnson – ironically, the real-life father of Dakota Johnson who plays Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades films – also deliver fine performances even if they’re undermined by the lazy material.

Diane Keaton in BOOK CLUB.

Diane Keaton in BOOK CLUB. © 2018 Paramount Pictures

Yet, while BOOK CLUB isn’t going to win any awards for its originality, it’s nice to see the film doesn’t shy away from showing some necessary truths, particularly in the way family and society treat older women. Diane’s daughters Jill and Adrianne (Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton) treat their 72-year-old mother as if she has one foot in the grave, regardless of her vibrancy and life.

Despite its talented cast, however, BOOK CLUB ultimately fails to deliver on its initial promise. If you’re a fan of similar films such as IT’S COMPLICATED, you may enjoy BOOK CLUB but don’t expect to be blown away by its plot – even with such a stellar cast.

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

BOOK CLUB is released in UK cinemas from 1 June 2018.