The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Don Roos, Kevin Hood, Thomas Bezucha
Based on: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ novel
Cast: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Glen Powell, Penelope Wilton
Seen on: 7.12.2018
Shortly after WW2. Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is a successful columnist who recently published a book with collected essays and is now struggling to find a topic for a new book. That’s when she receives a letter from Guernsey from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman). Juliet becomes interested in the history of Guernsey during the war, and in particular the history of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Dawsey writes about, and decides that she wants to go there to find the stuff for her new book.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was nice, but I didn’t like it as much as I liked the book, despite many good things. Still, it’s a good watch and will probably motivate you to join/create a book club of your own.
The thing that bothered me most about the film is that it is revealed that Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay) had an affair with a German soldier who was stationed in Guernsey. He may have been a Nazi soldier, but at heart, he was a good guy – that’s the position the film takes at least. And I don’t know if I wasn’t as sensitized to the trope and its problems when I read the book (and have since forgotten that it was in the book) or whether this is something the film added, but it definitely left a sour taste in my mouth here – and I don’t remember that taste from the book. We really don’t need any more stories about how (some) Nazis weren’t (that) bad.
That being said, there are some things that the film gets very right – starting with the casting. Above all Huisman and Goode (unfortunately just in a small supporting role) are perfectly chosen for their roles, but generally, we get great actors in roles that they fill perfectly. The good chemistry between the cast really made their meetings fun – and made me want to found a book club myself (this is not a new idea. Maybe I will make it someday).
It’s really the characters that keep the film alive and make the tropes it employs work despite their tropiness. I definitely enjoyed myself watching the film, especially since it does have a nice sense of humor.
It’s not a great piece of cinema and I do think that it could have been better, but it is certainly good enough for a nice, cuddly evening at home that you definitely won’t regret watching it, if that’s what you’re looking for.