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Read: Book Club sells it’s veteran cast short

There was a time when you wouldn’t really see older women much in commercial Hollywood films and TV shows. If they were there, they tended to be peripheral characters and usually grandmas.

My how times change. Since the pioneering days of The Golden Girls, older women are now seen as bankable, and, thanks to Grace and Frankie, being elderly and female is now a hot proposition.

I’m not saying all is rosy for older female actors, but at least there is recognition that a market exists and their appeal goes beyond an older audience.

So, into this heady new era comes Book Club, a feel-good romantic comedy with a stellar cast of septuagenarian babes who refuse to settle down into respectable retirement. With stars such as Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen, this film ought to be amazing.

Well…. despite being mildly funny and kind of sweet, it’s a bit of a dud.

What’s disappointing is that this film is packed with experienced thespians – indeed – Candice Bergen and Jane Fonda are two of my favourite American actors, but they are let down by a tepid premise and clunky script.

Where Grace and Frankie is believable and superbly crafted, Book Club’s plot is overly contrived. Scenes are laboured, and the script is littered with too many ‘mom jokes.’ The male foils seem a little try hard, and other than Andy Garcia they are obviously accessories for the women to bounce off. This is a pity as, again, these men are very experienced actors able to show great subtly and variety in their performances.

There are some funny lines and moments in it. This is particularly true when Sharon (Candice Bergen) is encouraged to try out dating apps – the resulting farce is really good. Overall though the film has a slightly desperate feel to it.

It’s as though they’ve tried to re-create the typical rom-com formula that younger audiences lap up and simply cut and paste it onto an older cast. These women are not 20 something, and sadly trying to make them appear as though they are simply doesn’t work. As Grace and Frankie illustrates so well, older men and women can have realistic romantic storylines and be sexual beings but in a way that is appropriate for their age. When the formula is right, you’ll hit gold, but when filmmakers try the cookie cutter approach all you end up with is a film that is false.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh since the film isn’t a total disaster, but for me, Book Club sells its veteran actors and potential audience short.

In cinemas 16th August 2018

Book Club

103 Minutes

Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson
Directed by: Bill Holderman

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