What happens when the hottest women, and some of the finest actresses of the 1970s and 80s, come together in a movie about sex in 2018? Certainly, it triggers memories of overdevelopment. It is like the conundrum in the story of viagra really; the casting of these ladies could improve the performances, but may not increase desire.
In point of fact, ‘Book Club’ is about books, not sex. But when a wealthy, suburban foursome, who have created a monthly book club, and who get together for suggested readings, along with plenty of wine and gossip, decide that ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is this month’s reading, it leads to a great deal of post menopausal agitation. Naturally, there are a lot of off colour jokes about their literary taste and they get ribbed for their selected reading from other people, and, in the case of one of the women who still has one, the spouse.
But three of the women are gloriously single, and they are aroused enough by the erotic chapters in the book of the month, to experiment with new age stuff like dating sites and getting picked up by pilots in planes.
The best story in the film is Diane’s (Diane Keaton). She has two over powering daughters who treat her like a geriatric who needs to be monitored. But she breaks free of them to date a handsome pilot (Andy Garcia). This actress has a hugely funny way of telling a story, as she did as Annie Hall in ‘Annie Hall’, and an engaging way of expressing her social and sexual inhibitions. She also seems to have aged very gracefully.
Oddly enough, the fitness freak amongst the four actress, Jane Fonda, and the author of ‘Jane Fonda’s Workout’, seems not to have hung on to her looks or fitness. She also appears slower in her motor movements, and this affects her self expression. Her role in the film as a woman who is too tired to make the effort to let a man woo her, doesn’t come off very well.
Together with Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, these women get a lot of laughs with their one liners, but the truth is that apart from the enjoyment of watching these classy ladies at their antics, and recalling at every moment their finest films from the late twentieth century, there is very little content to the movie. The whole thing seems more an amusing gig, a blast from the past, fit for a couple of television episodes perhaps, but inadequate material for a movie.
Surely, when you get together such a venerable cast, you are expected to use their talents in an engaging plot. To select ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ as book reading for characters in a ‘Book Club’, played by actresses who have created some unforgettable personalities in their filmography, indicates a lack of fundamental respect for their individual status; not to mention the lack of appreciation for the writers and directors who worked with these women, and who helped create their iconic personae.