Book Club isn’t just a romantic comedy but a film that manages to team up four of the greatest female actors of their time in the same movie.
This group of friends have been a part of the same book club since 1974 when they first got together. There’s Diane (Diane Keaton), a mother of two daughters but recently widowed when her husband died after 40 years of being together. Next up is Vivian (Jane Fonda), a woman who owns a hotel but prefers to have sex without being tied down. There’s the judge, Sharon (Candice Bergen). Years later, Sharon is dealing with the fallout from her divorce to ex-husband Tom (Ed Begley, Jr.). Finall,y we have Carol (Mary Steenburgen), who is hoping to revitalize her marriage to Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) after some 35 years.
Whether it’s rekindling current and old romances such as Arthur (Don Johnson), these women are in for it when they decide to read Fifty Shades of Grey for their next book club meeting. This is where the casting of Johnson figures to be so meta because, after all, he’s the father of actress Dakota Johnson. The film doesn’t point fun at the films but more or less the cultural impact of the books.
Credit to both Bill Holderman and Erin Simms for putting together such a clever script. This is a film that, in theory, targets an older audience as far as demographics are concerned. It’s so much better than that. This was a film that was more or less written with these women in mind so the script plays to their strengths. In casting this film, they manage to put together some of the greatest actresses of their generation and show that you can still have a viable romantic relationship on screen after turning sixty.
On the casting front, if the Murphy Brown revival had not already been announced by CBS, Candice Bergen’s performance in the film would have gotten people talking. After a minor role in last fall’s Reese Witherspoon comedy, Home Again, Bergen carries a more substantial role in the film. She’s still relevant after all these years and I, for one, await her return to her classic television series in the fall.
This is a film that goes against the whole angle of ageism, where it’s so hard for women to find decent roles after turning a certain age. Put all four of these women in Book Club together and the comparisons to The Avengers or any other crossover team-up aren’t so far-fetched.
DIRECTOR: Bill Holderman
SCREENWRITERS: Bill Holderman and Erin Simms
CAST: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson with Andy Garcia and Don Johnson