Released: 1st June 2018
Directed By: Bill Holderman
Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen
Reviewed By: Van Connor
Be honest: when you first discovered the existence of a “for the older crowd” sex comedy centering around the discovery of Fifty Shades of Grey, your first thought was something along the lines of “is it 2012?!” and, to be perfectly fair, you’d be absolutely right to think as much. Mercifully, Book Club manages – through the sheer heft of its collected on-screen charisma and a surprisingly sharp screenplay – to quickly become something infinitely greater than its half-decade-old buzzword concept might suggest. It’s… wait for it… a genuinely fun sex comedy for the older crowd.
To explain that rather ignorant demographic would be to highlight the growing subgenera of age-friendly comedies of the past decade that seem to have formed the new bedrock of frequent star Diane Keaton’s career. Here, united with the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen, and Jane Fonda, everyone’s favourite ascot model plays one quarter of a book club whose latest pick – a certain smutty slice of mom porn – provides the catalyst for its number to pursue long-dormant sexual desires thought to have been lost to the ravages of age. For Keaton, it’s the temptation of a relationship with dashing pilot Andy Garcia, while Fonda struggles to stave off her returning feelings for former flame Don Johnson, Steenburgen sets out to put the spice back in her marriage, and Bergen discovers the consequence-free joy of playing the senior Bumble field.
Balanced just so in its execution so as to provide a lively and broadly humorous look at love in later life without skimping on us actually stopping to care about its characters, Book Club is without doubt the most risqué offering its instinct sub-genre has seen to date, hilariously blue, astonishingly filthy at times, and yet all without betraying the sensibilities of or risking offending its target (re. older) demographic. The four ladies who make up the poster prove more than up to that challenge, with Keaton clearly the more uncomfortable of a quartet that otherwise relishes every chance to unleash their own personal Last Vegas upon us. With infinitely more fun results.
It’s a hoot from start to finish, brilliantly constructed in such a way as to meta-texturally acknowledge its own anachronism but without forgoing the fun it can have along the way. Writer-director Bill Holderman makes an unremarkable but otherwise perfectly engaging directorial debut, and if there’s a comedy that’ll ignite a senior multiplex audience with more ferocity from this yet to come it’ll have been one heck of a feat. Book Club isn’t for everyone, but it’ll entertain most all the same, bringing together a crop of always engaging female talent for a comedy that isn’t afraid to punch below the belt.