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Film Reviews
Book Club
| Sunday, 05.27.2018, 10:03 PM |   (12127 views)

Book Club, starring Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen

Throw together a quartet of strong actresses of a certain age and, unless you have a good director, you might be headed for trouble. Each a legend of the small and big screen, each having their own substantial 'trophy wall'. However, with Book Club, first-time Director/Screenwriter Bill Holderman has successfully managed to corral the talents of Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen and set them loose to work, and play, off each other.

Yes, it's undoubtedly a rom-com, targeting the baby-boomer set. But considering that this demographic is the most populated generation, the built-in audience is a wise choice. Women attended the film solo, with a best friend, or two, or three. And, if their men know where their bread is buttered, they'll happily go along, if invited. And they won't be sorry. Book Club is a laugh-out-loud delight. And the men in my audience guffawed the loudest, as the quips and cracks between this quartet of smart, successful, hardworking, attractive women came fast and furious.

The basic premise is that, for decades, the four have been members of a book club. And this time around, Vivian (Fonda) has decided to shake things up with her choice of reading material. She gleefully hands out copies of Fifty Shades of Grey to her lifelong BFF's. Vivian's choice is first met with laughter and refusal. But it's her choice this time around, and she challenges each woman to indulge, and see where it takes them.  Considering the club once tackled 'Fear of Flying', a risque novel in it's day, the path, at this stage of their lives, may be very interesting.

Diane (Keaton) is a recently widowed mother to two adult girls who live in Arizona. Sharon (Bergen) is a Federal Judge, who has just found out that her son is getting married, as is her own ex-husband. Carol (Steenburgen) adores her husband, but for months he has shown no interest in sex, though he won't say why.

Vivian, who has no problem with attracting male attention, does have a problem with commitment. She simply cannot let down her guard long enough for her to wake up next to her partners the morning after, including Arthur (Don Johnson), still hot, and still hot for her, after all these years. She does take to heart some of the 'suggestions' she reads in each Grey novel, highlighting the intriguing passages. Sharon dips her toes in the online dating pool water, for the first time. Carol turns to medicinal aides. Diane strikes up a long-distance relationship with a handsome pilot (Andy Garcia).

The women look spectacular. Fonda really is stunning. She may be accused of having had a lot of cosmetic work, but if you can afford the best surgeons, it makes you feel better, are willing to deal with post-surgical pain, then go for it. Let no one judge you for the choices you make for yourself. And, in the end, that is what Book Club is about. Personal growth at your own speed.

Historically, each of these women has been in films that have pushed the sexual mores. Fonda was one of the first American actresses to appear nude in a foreign film (La Ronde). Bergen starred in Carnal Knowledge, which explored sexuality in the post-WWII pre-1960's generation. In 2008, Steenburgen played a sexually frustrated housewife in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, and was voted one of the sexiest women over 50. And Keaton starred in the 2017 film Hampstead with Brendan Gleeson; when interviewed for that film, Keaton exclaimed, “Who says you can’t do a bedroom scene in your 70s?

None of the women, once they get rolling, back down from the Fifty Shades challenge. Book Club takes you through their ups and downs with new, and old, partners, with a light touch. The dialogue is true to how women who have known, and loved, each other for decades, actually speak with each other. They pull no punches, telling each other the unvarnished truth, and are well aware that all the good-intentioned teasing is done with a whole lotta love.

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor for In Focus Magazine.  She's a News Editor at WESH2 in Orlando, an NBC Affiliate Station. She was formerly with WKMG6 for 14 years as a News Editor. She spent nine years in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite and MTV Networks. She also worked as an on-air host for local cable access programs. Lisa has covered the Florida Film Festival for the past 26 years as well as the World Peace Festival. She's a featured columnist for, was featured columnist for the now-defunct, has been a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper and now for In Focus Magazine. 

Lisa Blanck can be reached at: [email protected]

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