Book Club (2018)

Book Club
Director: Bill Holderman
Writer: Bill Holderman, Erin Simms
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Ed Begley Jr., Richard Dreyfuss, Wallace Shawn, Alicia Silverstone, Katie Aselton, Mircea Monroe, Ravi Kapoor
Seen on: 14.9.2018

Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) have had a book club for decades. They each take turns picking the books they read and this month it’s Vivian’s turn. Her choice is 50 Shades of Grey, much to the dismay of the other women. But as they start reading, they all start wondering about their own sexual and romantic lives: widowed Diane meets Mitchell (Andy Garcia); perpetual single Vivian reconnects with Arthur (Don Johnson); Carol rekindles the sexual side of her relationship with her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson); and divorced Sharon braves online dating.

Book Club is rather inconsequential but it’s fun and it captures something of why the 50 Shades series was such a big success, despite the problematic bits. But ultimately it doesn’t have any big insights.

The film poster showing  DIane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen around a table.

Book Club is firmly rooted in genre conventions and doesn’t deviate even slightly from them. That makes it utterly predictable, but really, genre tropes are what you watch that kind of film for, so I can’t really fault it for that.

And at least Book Club takes the time to develop all four of its protagonists, setting them all on their own journeys. And one of the characters even turns out to be asexual, which was particularly nice (well, it’s kinda implied if you really want to see it – and I am always on the lookout for queer characters).

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen in the film.

Taking on 50 Shades often results in one of two things: either a look at its faults (a long list full of issues that is more than warranted) or a sensationalist tittering at the BDSM content. Book Club, I think, gets at least some of the appeal the books had for women. It’s not that women secretly all want to be dominated or some such crap, it’s because 50 Shades is explicitly tailored to women and gives them room to consider their own sexuality – something that is otherwise pretty taboo. By having the four women discuss the books in the film, we do get some of the criticism that the books need, but at the same time, the women are not judged for reading them.

In any case, with a nice cast, good pacing and well-executed tropes, Book Club is an entertaining film, even when it doesn’t stay too long in your memory. If you’re looking for something fun that doesn’t strain your brain too much, you can do worse but watch this.

Diane Keaton in the film.

Summarizing: not wow but nice.

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