Film: Book Club
Cast: Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Craig T. Nelson, Alicia Silverstone, Katie Aselton, Ed Begley Jr
Director: Bill Holderman
Rating: * * and a half
It’s easy (for your reviewer) at least to connect with the ageing quartet of best friends who set up their own impromptu book club (hopefully) discussing the finer points of literature and drinking copious amounts of wine. Except that the tome at the heart of this caper just happens to be sadomasochistic smut I haven’t read and shan’t. “A hundred million readers can’t be wrong” gushes one of the four women. Well, they can, and frankly, my dears, if I may quote the vastly misunderstood anti-hero Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, “I don’t give a damn.”
Anyway, singleton hotelier Vivian (Fonda) widowed home-maker Diane (Keaton) divorced judge Sharon (Bergen) and long married chef Carol (Steenburgen) curl up reading E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and decide something is missing in their sex lives. That’s right. Sex lives. Not love life. Or just life. Sex. The women go on an on and on about sex. Ad nauseam.
Why am I snorting? it’s not meth, I assure you. Yours truly is concerned that, yet again for the umpteenth time, women’s lives are straitjacketed into the narrow confines of libido. But we are more than our body parts. When will men (and sadly, women scriptwriters like Erin Simm) get this?
Unsurprisingly, the film has references to genitals, double entendres galore, plus a long drawn out (boring) scene about a Viagra-induced you know what. Even a beautiful Persian tabby and a motorbike aren’t spared Ms Simm and co-writer Holderman’s smutty jokes. I didn’t laugh when the well-preserved 80-year-old Fonda (who I met at the Hotel President years ago) squeezes her mammary glands saying she prefers licentiousness. Thankfully, Carol sagely tells her, “Eventually, people need a little more than that.”
Thumbs up too for star ensemble cast, the excellent production design (such beautiful homes in sunny California and Arizona) the soundtrack featuring Paul Simon and Meatloaf whose concert I’ve had the good fortune of attending in Dubai and most of all, the redemptive subtext about healthy man-woman relationships and fidelity. Needless to say, this film about enduring female friendship (HURRAH!) ends on a fairy tale note with the aforementioned geriatrics winding up with younger men.