Book Club – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card for the movie Book Club.
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Book Club, thanks to the veteran actresses who take lead, is touching, comical, and something you have to question: why is it so rare?


Director(s) Bill Holderman
Screenplay By Bill Holderman, Erin Simms
Date Released 5/17/2018
Genre(s) Romance, Comedy, Drama
Noted Actors
Vivian Jane Fonda
Diane Diane Keaton
Sharon Candice Bergen
Carol Mary Steenburgen
Bruce Craig T. Nelson
Mitchell Andy Garcia
Arthur Don Johnson

Summary

Over the course of 40 years, friends Vivian, Diane, Sharon, and Carol have weathered marriage, raising children, divorce, and sometimes each other. But now, in their 60s, as the world seems to see them differently, they too look in the mirror and notice something has changed. For a lot of them, they aren’t happy. This especially becomes the case after reading 50 Shades of Grey and realizing passion is missing in their life.

So, each one goes on a journey to find love and passion. For Carol, it is spicing things up with her husband Bruce; for Sharon, it is dating for, perhaps, the first time in 18 years, Vivian may actually, after 40 years, look for love and not just someone to satiate her lust and as for Diane? Well, with her being recently widowed, and dealing with overprotective daughters, she wants to live for real. Not just do what’s best for others but what is best for her. Something Mitchell is all ready to help her with.

Highlights

40 Years of Friendship & 60+ Years of Life

The ladies at Carol's restaurant pushing Sharon to go dating.
Jane Fonda (Vivian) – Mary Steenburgen (Carol) – Candice Bergen (Sharon)

For the life of me, I will never understand why it is so uncommon to see shows and movies which feature people of the age of these actresses. As noted in [tooltips keyword=’The Wilde Wedding‘ content = ‘The Wilde Wedding, while slightly pretentious, and seemingly made for big city indie lovers, is rather charming and contains the rare depiction of love in a senior age.’], there is such a wealth of stories left yet it seems the 18 – 34 demographic is all that is ever appealed to. We don’t get to really see what it means to have decades of friendship. Much less a strong enough one where you can call each other out and it isn’t the end of the world.

That is, on top of what it is like have kids who are adults, deal with the effects of aging, what it means to retire, handle being a matriarch or patriarch, if not simply be someone who has lived fully and without much in the way of compromise. I’m talking, checked off as many boxes as they can, made something of themselves, and did things their way despite the social norms or advice given. But, focusing on the film, what you have to love is that each person is given their place and while all clearly middle or upper class, they are relatable.

For whether you are talking about the finance guru and hotel owner which is Vivian, who also quite enjoys no strings attached sex; the accomplished cook and restaurant owner Carol, who is a bit of a control freak; Sharon who is a federal judge, and a bit timid, or perhaps conservative; and Diane who, well work wise it isn’t clear what she may have done but she has lived as well. She was a wife, mother, and did what she believed what she was supposed to.

And together, this mixture isn’t some kind of opposites attract but you get real chemistry here. Also, proof that there is a life to be had and dealt with after where most movies we see end. Which, by the way, isn’t at its end just because now said person is 60 something years old.

Finding & Maintaining Love

Diane on a date.
Diane Keaton (Diane)

While it is made clear the women don’t need men to be fulfilled and happy, as shown in one of Jane Fonda’s latest movies [tooltips keyword=’Our Souls at Night‘ content = ‘Our Souls At Night continues to push that there is such a richness in storytelling Hollywood is missing out on by focusing solely on the youth.’], companionship is valuable. And while, yes, the ladies have their book club and wine, having someone outside the group is important too. Which, again, we get diverse and beautiful depictions of.

For Carol, the sole one still married, the focus is keeping the marriage alive, fresh, a little bit spicy. Especially since she still gets horny and with Christian Grey creating a few fantasies, she wants Bruce to help her play them out. But, Bruce is going through his own things. Recently being retired has his mind boggled a bit and it seems to be throwing off his libido. Yet, he still loves his wife and tries. Takes him a bit to get into this groove she is in, but he does try.

Then, in terms of Diane, the way it appears, she went through the motions her whole life. So having someone like Mitchell come in who flirts, is adventurous, romantic and all that? It’s a welcomed change. In fact, it pushes the point presented in the latest episode of Red Table Talk dealing with loss. That is, how the death of someone can be a lesson or wake up call. Alongside, you being responsible for your own happiness and being willing to give yourself the allowance to be happy. Especially consider, when it comes to Diane’s children, they seem ready to keep her in a basement and define her happiness in tune with what would make them happy.

But perhaps the two most interesting journeys, when it comes to love, are Vivian and Sharon. When it comes to Vivian, her journey is interesting for she spent her whole life without a real relationship. Well, at least 40 years. And, during that time, she found great success but not someone to share it with. Not in terms of financially, like a partner to get the stress of the day to day off her back, but like she does with Arthur. Someone she could have shared memories with, made jokes with, did things which were wild, outside of something sexual. You know, a relationship with meaning beyond friendship and being casual. And the reason her journey is such a highlight is because, she always lived her life to the fullest but avoided the biggest challenge in life. Which is finding love. All because, she used the mindset of risk management she used for her business in her personal life.

Leaving us with Sharon. As can be seen, there are a lot of opposites with this movie and Sharon is sort of everyone’s opposite. Unlike Carol, she didn’t enjoy being married; unlike Diane, no man has really chased her after a chance meeting; and unlike Vivian… well, pretty much everything unlike Vivian besides being successful. But, despite how everyone is well to do, there is something about Sharon which is the easiest to connect with. For with her kind of being fine with being alone but pressured to maybe find someone, and relying on online dating, she is everyone from 18 to her age in that struggle. But, unlike every other character, she isn’t given the ending she deserves.

One The Fence

Sharon’s Ending Feels Incomplete

Sharon being caught on a dating website.
Candice Bergen (Sharon)

Everyone but Sharon gets an ending which is well tied up. For her, the journey is shown to be just beginning yet, with her life being the most universal, outside of her job, her not getting her guy and a relationship is frustrating. Yet, who knows, a sequel could always happen where she gets a great guy and gives marriage a second chance.

Diane’s Kids

While you get the point was to show how big of an issue ageism is, sometimes Diane’s kids seemed far too shallow and annoying to be taken as more than to set up jokes. Cheap, unsatisfying, eye-roll inducing, jokes. The kind which, considering neither writer is up in age, seem thrown in to pick with Diane and Diane Keaton a bit. To make her frustration easy to portray.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Taking note of the movies linked, I realized I say for each film how much I hope there will be more productions like this. Something which I still feel strongly about because, the way diversity is playing out right now, it has made many strides towards more Black stories, stories featuring women, and slowly, slowly, is making it so Black or white isn’t the sole definition of what diversity means. There are programs like Vida, movies like Crazy Rich Asians coming and, of course, increasing LGBTQIA representation. Alongside different types of struggles like autism.

However, when it comes to people of the age of the actresses in this film and those who aren’t average sized to skinny, things are still lacking. Making it where there are these huge gaps that lead you to forget saying how you wish there was more of this or that over and over. Since, it just seems like a problem no studio is really putting an effort into providing a consistent solution.

Leading to the reason this is labeled positive. With about 21 hearty laughs, likable characters all around, a sense that having a partner in life isn’t necessary to be happy but is nice to have, Book Club just feels like something which shouldn’t be hard to find similar stuff too. And yet it is but, if you’re smart, you’ll experience this and push for it to not be part of some unofficial quota but more and more a norm.


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About Amari Sali 3219 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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