Book Club is a well-acted and unconventional romantic comedy, only hampered by its lack of depth and story. Centered around four aging women, and their monthly book club, the film aims to shed a comedic light on the often ignored, “mature” love story. Rookie director Bill Holderman gives the extremely talented cast a lot of room to work, and it shows in the final product. The impressive four-some of Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, carry the film with great performances, and are only hampered by a story that seems to be more of an afterthought.
After assigning 50 Shades of Grey as their latest book of the month, Vivian (Fonda), Diane (Keaton), Sharon (Bergen) and Carol (Steenburgen), all start to realize that they are missing something – a romantic love life. Vivian is the rolling stone, never being able to emotionally attach to someone. Diane has been recently widowed and is in a constant struggle with her daughters, who “know what’s best” for their aging mother. Sharon, a well-respected federal judge, discovers online dating, and continuously gets annoyed at her ex-husband of 18 years. Lastly, Carol, is happily married but can’t remember the last time she has been “satisfied.” The wildly popular book opens up an entire new world for the group of friends, as we see them attempt to rekindle their love lives.
The film itself is pretty bland, devoting equal time to each woman’s love story. The fact that these played-out, romantic comedy tropes are being told from an elderly woman’s point of view doesn’t change the fact that we’ve seen it all before. Sure, some of the comedy comes from the shock value of a senior citizen talking about sex, but this fades quickly. The book club acts as a central hub for the women, and this is where the film shines. The seamless banter between the actresses is genuinely funny, as these scenes are just overflowing with on-screen chemistry. Holderman does a good job of moving the film along, relying on his excellent cast rather his own direction. Unfortunately, when all of the women aren’t on screen reminiscing and complaining about men, the film trudges along with little to keep the audience interested.
Book Club is definitely directed towards a niche audience, and that audience will really enjoy the film. It is genuinely funny in spots and is wonderfully acted. Films like this are more about fun, and Holderman directs accordingly. By never taking itself too seriously, Book Club, knows exactly what it is, and it never comes off as pretentious or overly dramatic. If nothing else, the film is good for a few laughs and some dumb fun.