One of the positive takeaways from Book Club is how it casts half of the Clubs’ love interests as actors a decade younger than the female leads. Unfortunately, the listless script can’t reach the level of the talented cast. Book Club made me want to give up reading altogether.
We have reached a point where more studios are spending their time and money on producing films dedicated to not just female-oriented storylines but also ones dedicated to the now retiring baby-boomer generation. When it comes to these films, they are far and far between. I only wish Book Club was a better example of what studios can do for an untapped, rediscovered audience.
We meet Dianne, a recently widowed woman of 40-years played by Diane Keaton. She has close friends that include one who is promiscuous and loves her plastic surgery (Jane Fonda), a workaholic judge that hasn’t found time for personal relationships with men since her divorce decades before (the too-little-seen until recently Candice Bergen), and a wife whose marriage has hit a dry spell after 30-plus years of marriage (played by Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson). Of course, the only thing that can turn their romantic lives around is reading E.L. James’s erotic romance 50 Shades trilogy, not therapy or marriage counselling. Who knew, right?
Yes, it is one of those movies that relies on a thin premise to get you through a film that is entirely too long. Dianne meets a pilot played by Andy Garcia and can’t commit to the relationship because of the loss of her husband and the realization she stayed with him for the kids (Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton). Vivian meets Arthur (Don Johnson), a man that she met briefly 40 years before. They rekindle their relationship, but Vivian is torn between wanting to keep her independence and giving herself over fully to someone.
One of the issues I have with the script is that the women in the film seem to have no idea what they want when they have reached the age where they know exactly what they want. It also portrays the film’s female characters as scatterbrained and uncouth around the men they are interested in. Have we not reached a point where women, who are all in their 60’s and mature, act like flighty teenagers while the men are calm, cool, and always handle situations well under pressure? They seem to “mansplain” things to these intelligent women like dolls getting their strings pulled. The only couple that rings true and gets some laughs is the Steenburgen and Nelson relationship, but then it loses its way with an eye-roll inducing dance number that doesn’t come close to solving their sexual intimacy issues.
One of the positive aspects of Book Club is how it casts Garcia and Johnson as the love interests of Keaton and Fonda, who are nearly a decade older than their love interests in the film. How many times have we seen an almost 50-year-old male actor find love with a woman in her twenties, playing older than their age in films? It is refreshing to see the female characters in the film can have their cake and eat it too (of course Don Johnson is not Zac Efron, so there is still some work to be done there).
In the end, Book Club’s listless script cannot juggle four separate storylines and reach the level of the talented cast at the same time. That’s too bad. Hollywood needs more films that are dedicated to female empowerment and storylines that are older-adult centric. Let’s hope Hollywood continues to not just produce films about these themes but spends the money to put better material behind them.