Directed by: Bill Holderman
Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson with Andy Garcia and Don Johnson
3 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
In case you think this film might not appeal to you, I implore you… don’t be afraid of attending a romantic comedy just because it stars women over a certain age. It’s okay for men to show their sexuality at any age and now, due to this fierce cast of outstanding actresses we’ve all grown to know over the years, it’s acceptable for women to desire, talk about and be playful when it comes to the topic of sex. And are they ever playful. The comedic part of the film is represented well, as is their gender. The main characters are played with masterful timing by Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen. I couldn’t imagine a better lineup for such a film. Diane (Keaton), Vivian (Fonda), Sharon (Bergen) and Carol (Steenburgen) are introduced to us by Sharon talking in Voice-over about her longtime friends and how they started their Book Club. This isn’t completely necessary for such a narrative but does seem to be all the rage in films these days. We even see edited pictures of the four of them together when they were younger. Damn those gals were good looking… and still are!
Vivian is an extremely wealthy woman who wouldn’t dare let a man get close enough to her that he could hurt her as she did in her youth. See Don Johnson’s character Arthur for an example of that. They once had a relationship and now he’s trying to slip back into her life, but Vivian has all she needs with her money and best pals to keep her warm.
Sharon is a divorced federal judge who finds out her ex-husband Tom (Ed Begley Jr.) is remarrying someone half his age. She’s talked into trying an online dating site which at least gets her out there and moving on.
Diane is a widow who fights her children for control of her own life. They fear she’s too old to be alone and want her to move to Arizona to be with them. She doesn’t want to disappoint them but when she meets a pilot named Mitchell (Garcia), who supports her and offers her a new start, she has a hard time deciding who to let down. The very act of picking one over the other ultimately leaves her still losing out.
Carol is married to Bruce (Nelson) who hasn’t touched her in months and though she’s trying to get his attention, he doesn’t seem interested in making up for lost time.
These women have their bugaboos, their issues, but when they’re together, they have the kinship they need and the love they need to get them through any obstacles that momentarily stops them from being happy. If something gets in the way of their seeing one another they still get together, at least once a month, for their Book Club meeting which is something they cherish. This particular month, they are introduced to Christian Grey from the book ‘50 Shades of Grey.’ They enjoy it so much they’re tickled pink when they find out it’s a trilogy. Their discussions about and attitudes toward the book had the audience I was screening the film with, completely in tears. How it was edited was particularly clever to enhance the more witty elements of the film and endears the audience to the women even more as we got to know them one by one.
Their friendship, their love for one another and their refusal to give up on life are cherished and as far as summer movies go, is one worth watching… maybe more than once. It’s entertaining to see these gifted actresses work together. Their characters know each other so well, that they serve as a check on and call one another out when they know they’re lying or holding something back but embrace when it’s needed to hold someone up. The cast gave such believable performances it was effortless to believe they’ve been friends as long as suggested. It’s easy to say the wonderful script Bill Holderman and Erin Simms wrote together had a lot to do with that. He wrote a fun script and together everyone made a very fun movie.