The Bookshop (2017)

The Bookshop
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writer: Isabel Coixet
Based on: Penelope Fitzgerald‘s novel
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Hunter Tremayne, Honor Kneafsey, Michael Fitzgerald, Frances Barber, Reg Wilson, James Lance, Patricia Clarkson
Seen on: 22.5.2018

Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) needs a fresh start after her husband’s death. She moves to a small town on the coast and opens a bookshop there. Unwittinlgy she disrupts the local politics with her opening – the powerful Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) had set the sights on her shop. Florence manages to gain the trust and appreciation of a local few – like Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) regardless. But her bold choice to promote Nabokov’s Lolita at her store, causes quite an upheaval in town.

I expected The Bookshop to be this romantic, cute film and it does start that way. But then it suddenly throws so much sadness in your face that I could barely handle it. You should definitely be prepared for that.

Film poster showing Emily Mortimer leaning against the wall of a book store.

The Bookshop is a beautiful film. It hits every visual tone (if you will) with both its cinematography and its production design, managing to find the colors where you least expect them.

It also has great characters, played by a great cast. They do come close to being stereotypes here and there, but cast and script always manage to give them more depth than what it may appear at first. It also makes them more loveable, which makes the sad turn the film takes in the second half even harder to take.

Emily Mortimer leaning against a crate of books, reading.

That I was emotionally invested in the story, the characters and wanted to see them be happy, wasn’t the only reason though that it hit me this hard. I was definitely expecting a happy end, too. I thought that was the genre of film I was in. So that expectation certainly screwed me over as well.

It’s not like the film is entirely hopeless, but it certainly doesn’t leave you with a smile and a spring in your step. But it does tell a beautiful story about engaging characters and it’s certainly worth seeing. Just plan for some icecream and/or chocolate afterwards.

Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson sitting at a table, having tea.

Summarizing: Watch it, but prepare to have your heart broken.

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