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Book Club Review - Fun Tale of Finding Love After Fifty Shades

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Book Club, from Paramount Pictures and June Pictures, presents the story of four successful friends, a book club and the sudden appearance of Christian Gray, who resurrects the idea of romance and risking for the sake of love.

Directed and co-written by Bill Holderman, Book Club stars Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley, Jr., Wallace Shawn, Tommy Dewey, Katie Aselton and Lili Bordan. Book Club was co-written by Erin Simms.

As Book Club begins, the audience is given a montage of the past forty years introducing our four main characters. Roommates in college, when changing the world was a genuine possibility, and ideas were born and formulated from talking, debating and of course expanding your mind meant reading.

So read they did. Beginning with an “You’ve got to read this . . ." some forty years flew by with only one constant: The monthly girls night/book club read.

Jane Fonda plays Vivian, the successful owner of a boutique luxury hotel somewhere in the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills area. Diane Keaton plays Diane, who over the past year has grieved over her late husband’s death, while fending off her two very willful daughters who are tag teaming her to convince her the move to Scottsdale is the right thing.


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Candice Bergen, plays Sharon, a federal judge, who seems quite content post-divorce with her career and cat, she is perfectly fine. Mary Steenburgen plays Carol, happily married to Bruce, played by Craig T. Nelson, who despite all the external zings of life have remained very much in love. The only problem, for both, is they’ve been in a bit of a slump.

This month, Vivian, who is still, as we see in the opening scenes, is ready when opportunity presents brought the notorious 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James, as it was her month to choose, for the monthly read.

As each on got over their initial protestation, suddenly the book, which pulled them in, seemed to open their eyes to the virtual candy store that swirled around them each day. Vivian, who loves them and leaves them better than most men, left a special someone, Arthur, decades previously.

As life would have it, Arthur, played by Don Johnson, walked into her well appointed luxury hotel and instantly the embers from that old flame were flaring bringing back memories.

Diane, decides as long as she is alone she can read the naughty book so after falling over a handsome stranger as she attempted to get to her seat, she figures since everyone is either sleeping and clearly not paying attention to her, she’ll read.

Sharon, agrees to read the ridiculous book only to find herself more aware of the absence in her own life. Deciding to mix it up she joins a online dating site and soon, much to her surprise, the likes and invitations begin to fill her in folder.

Carol, a successful Chef and restaurateur is so accustomed to having a similar appetite as her husband that his lack of desire is unsettling. Soon with the help of E.L. James, Christian Grey and Vivian, she is on the path to alleviating the issue.

Along the way Diane, on a flight to Scottsdale, meets her handsome stranger, Mitchell, played by Andy Garcia. Sharon is beginning to date and we meet George, played by Richard Dreyfuss, her first date post Fifty Shades, Ed Begley, Jr., her ex husband and Wallace Shawn, her second date.

Book Club, is the story of four friends who despite all the changes in life they have remained friends. The power of friendship, with all the heartaches of lost loves, failed marriages, whatever curve ball life tossed at them, the monthly girls book club, armed with plenty of wine, new reads, and more conversation kept them close.

With four of the most celebrated talents in the entertainment industry in the leads, it’s a little difficult to critique performances. What can one say about Ms. Fonda? Or Ms. Bergen or Ms. Keaton or Ms. Steenburgen. The women are as strong in their performances capturing the essence of the characters and enjoying, or so it appears, each of the persona’s that they play.

Candice Bergen is cast of the comic, the serious judge and comedic persona opposite the seriousness of the others. Andy Garcia and Don Johnson each play love interests which cast them in romantic characters and each play that well.

Book Club is filled with innuendo, hint, implication as well as romance, as E.L. James inspires the group to become more adventurous and more importantly to believe in the possibility of love or at least in the notion that feeling special, desired, is still possible.


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I enjoyed this film and I do have to admit, and it could just be me, cynic that I am, I found some of the sparks that should have been flying were not translating. And maybe that was the intent, it just seems impossible to be puled in so many directions. Common sense does eventually show up; and the one foot in the grave theory is dispelled.

Book Club plays well without special effects or high tech filmmaking wizardry, depending on story and the talent of the ensemble cast. It doesn’t disappoint.

Book Club is in theaters everywhere. See it.

 

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