Book Club – Film Review by Pat Viale
Director: Bill Holderman
Writers: Bill Holderman, Erin Simms
Stars: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen
“Book Club” may not be the worst film you’ll see this year but it’s certainly a strong contender. It is hard to understand why such a stellar cast with 5 Oscars and 11 Nominations between them would agree to appear in such a trite and predictable film. While other comedies with a strong female cast – “Nine to Five” and “Desperate Housewives” come to mind – may not be to everyone’s taste, it can’t be denied that they are well paced and have a clever script. Neither is true of “Book Club”. The leaden jokes and heavy-handed sexual innuendo makes the Carry On movies looks like works of subtlety in comparison and the story-line is so ponderous and obvious that the end can’t come soon enough.
It’s a fairly simple set-up. Four, 60-something friends meet every month to discuss a book they’ve been reading, Actually, literary discussion plays a minimal part in their gatherings. Their main preoccupation seem to be swilling endless glasses of Chardonnay, ignoring all solid food (God forbid they should spoil their sylph-like figures!) and talking ad nauseum about the highs and lows of their sex lives.
Vivian (Jane Fonda) is a highly successful hotel proprietor who enjoys sleeping with different men (I.e. having sex with them) as long as she doesn’t have to sleep with them (i.e. actually have to spend the whole night in the same bed as them)…..her distinction, not mine! Equally successful on the career front is Carol (Mary Steenburgen), a renowned chef, though her constant preoccupation with the lack of a sex life with her recently retired husband would make you wonder how much attention she gives to the food preparation! Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a federal judge who tells us she hasn’t had sex since she divorced her cheating husband many years before and finally there’s Diane (Diane Keaton), recently widowed, with over-protective children, reprising the role of the unself-confident neurotic she played in First Wives Club.
When one of them suggests they read Fifty Shades of Grey as their next book (snigger, snigger), the genii is let out of the bottle. Instantly, they seem to become obsessed with the torrid exploits in the book and they each set out on the quest to find her own Christian Grey. Enter Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss and a host of other, almost interchangeable, men….. who should have know better ….and the stage is set for the (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) fun to start.
What is extraordinary in this day and age of militant feminism on the Hollywood scene is that a major film is made where women seem to define themselves and their success solely in terms of the men they get, or more exactly, the men they get under. While I didn’t find this film boring, I found its depiction of women objectionable and it is really incomprehensible that such a great cast of actors should waste their talents in this unsubtle and deeply mediocre film.