Book Club: The Next Chapter Takes Us On A Vacation To Italy

L-R: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen in Book Club 2: The Next Chapter. Courtesy of Focus Features.

Book Club: The Next Chapter takes audiences on a much-needed vacation to Italy in a film that is more epic in scope than its predecessor.

The studio might have changed but the magic that Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen have not. How often is it that four 65+ women are leading a movie? Not often. Regardless, it is a great credit to both their chemistry and both Bill Holderman and Erin Simms–Holderman directs while the duo co-wrote the film. Behind every film is a great writer–well, in this instance, there are two of them. The sequel’s journey dates back to an idea sparked during Book Club‘s introduction at CinemaCon 2018. It soon became a journey of how do you serve the story and take the cast to Italy. Along came a world-changing pandemic lockdown, travel ban, and the rest his story.

For better or worse, Holderman and Simms incorporate the pandemic into the film. That’s right, it starts out as a Zoom movie before restrictions loosen up and they’re finally able to get together in person. At which point, the topic of Italy comes up. The four were supposed to go many years prior but the trip never happened. They have an opportunity to take a trip but this time around, it becomes a bachelorette party. The stars are all in alignment but Holderman and Simms manage to raise the stakes even further when it comes to the comedy material. I’m not spoiling anything in particular because you’ve got to experience it with your own eyes!

As Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) make the trip to Italy, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist drives the plot. While I have not read the book, the film manages to reflect its themes. And again, there is no shortage of comedy as result. In any event, Holderman and Simms write to their strengths and give the audience what it wants: more scenes with the four women together. They also write some really fun gags for the film, too. I cannot stress the importance of having writers on set. They’re able to write new pages on the fly, if necessary.

One of the things that I appreciate about the film is that they’re not just taking us to the must-see sites on screen. Thanks to the location scouting and such, Book Club: The Next Chapter takes its audiences to some lesser-seen sites. While it’s still a vacation, it never feels too touristy as a film. This isn’t just limited to Rome but Venice and Tuscany as well. Where they expect to stick on a strict schedule, fate has other things in store. At the same time, some portions of the film were filmed at the historic Cinecittà Studios.

Much like the first film, Book Club: The Next Chapter displays the power of female friendship with just the right amount of sexual innuendo.

DIRECTOR: Bill Holderman
SCREENWRITERS: Bill Holderman & Erin Simms
CAST: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Giancarlo Giannini, Hugh Quarshie, Vincent Riotta, with Andy Garcia and Don Johnson

Focus Features will release Book Club: The Next Chapter in theaters on May 12, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.