Bookclub (12A) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir Bill Hoderman, US, 2023, 105 mins.

Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia

Review by Carlie Newman

Back to amuse us again, the four actresses, all over 70 now, embark on another journey together. This time lifelong friends, Carol (Mary Steenburgen), Diane (Diane Keaton) Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), recovering from the Covid pandemic, agree to go together to Italy in advance of Vivien’s marriage to Arthur (Don Johnson). A sort of elderly hen party with the women having adventures as they travel around a few well-known Italian tourist cities.

Each misses their partner – except for the Judge, Sharon, who still relishes her single life.

Carol has been a full-time carer for her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) and is constantly worried about him having a heart attack. Diane has a new partner, Mitchell (Andy Garcia).

Film financiers thought that the first Book Club film, which came out in 2018, would not be successful, but it was, actually, a huge success. So there are great hopes for this sequel.

Bill Holderman, who co-wrote and produced, directs the movie – but it is not always successful as the writing is rather poor with jokes that seem sexist and old-fashioned. However, the photography is lovely with views of Venice and Rome to die for.

But the joy is in seeing the famous older actresses working together – laughing and having little adventures and, above all, celebrating their great friendship. I can forgive a lot when I see older women on screen, not searching for acclamation from men, but enjoying the companionship of their female friends. For once the men – all well-acted – are the minor characters.

Many amusing incidents and a lovely connection between the four stars make this an enjoyable film to watch. And you will like the ending!