Book Club

In Cinemas Now

Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda and Candice Bergen are four lifelong friends whose lives change forever after reading 50 Shades of Grey at their monthly book club.

Diane (Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Bergen) is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years - and then the bestselling erotic novel comes along.

Trailers

Directed by

Comedy

103mins

Rating: M Offensive language & sexual references

USA

Hollywood acting royalty Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen play friends who have been meeting once a month to drink wine and chat books. After four decades, starting in the 1970s when they read Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, they’re up to Fifty Shades of Grey, (with author E.L. James even popping up in a cameo role). But whilst the protagonists play characters in differing occupations and relationships, all are heterosexual, upper-middle-class, prosperous, privileged and white.

Bill Holderman’s directorial debut, from a script co-written by Holderman and Erin Simms, is clearly aimed at a greying audience that powered the likes of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to box office and sequel success. As such, it’s a perfectly jovial time in the company of four lead performers unafraid to play (if not look) their age. There’s fun to be had as the quartet quaff vino and chat about love, relationships and the naughty bits, with Richard Dreyfuss, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Ed Begley Jnr. and Andy Garcia dropping by to play supporting roles, in what plays out pretty much as Sex and the City for seventy-year-olds. Whilst it’s great to see mainstream Hollywood fare recognising older women as sexually active, it’s disappointing to see their sexuality all-too-often treated in terms of snickering innuendo and shallow characterisation.

Carried by its vivacious lead performers, Book Club is amiable enough, with a few good laughs, but for a film that rejects realism in favour of frothy rom-com, it’s a shame about the end result. Fun but shallow, were it not for a stellar cast, it could well be mistaken for a big-screen version of a cosy TV sit-com aimed at an older demographic. Undemanding? Absolutely, but if the cast appeal to you, there’s still some fun to be had in Book Club.

Los Angeles Times

press

Fonda. Bergen. Keaton. Steenburgen. "Book Club." Sure, "Avengers: Infinity War" came out a few weeks ago, but now this is the greatest crossover event in history.

NPR

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It's a pleasant, no-stakes affair, as numbing as a two-glass buzz.

TimeOut (New York)

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...a piece of Nancy Meyers-esque escapism, in which musing about romantic frustration is only a bottle of pinot and a picturesque view away from being neatly resolved.

New York Times

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These women - Ms. Fonda, Ms. Keaton, Ms. Steenburgen and Ms. Bergen, that is - have nothing to prove. Each one brings enough credibility and charisma to "Book Club" to render its weaknesses largely irrelevant.

Vulture

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There's a maturity and warmth to director Bill Holderman and Erin Simms's script, which respects these ladies and understands that they've got a wealth of life experience that doesn't exactly fit into one rom-com.

Hollywood Reporter

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As far as it goes, Book Club is a mostly painless ride, with a few laugh-out-loud moments, but as Peggy Lee memorably sang, Is that all there is?

Variety (USA)

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The kind of comfort-food movie that's been pre-masticated by committee to the consistency of pudding (with even less flavor).

NZ Herald (Toby Woollaston)

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It will appeal to those who want to switch off and be entertained by a film as light and fluffy as a pav.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

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I absolutely, utterly and completely loathed this film.