Book Club is a flimsy, lightweight film that features a group of mature female Hollywood “names” whose roles never truly extend their acting capabilities.
The plot is not an essential aspect of this ensemble rom-com production, but the cast do manage to inject life into a series of humdrum scenarios.
Led by Diane Keaton, whose dowdy screen image has not changed, the rest of the cast – Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen (whose girlish voice irritates this reviewer) – find camaraderie in their monthly book club gatherings.
This story revolves around these four successful women who begin to read EL James’ trashy Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which inspires them to rekindle their own love lives. Fifty Shades serves as an excuse to entice these women into the same room regularly, where they talk about their love lives and can assess and critique one another’s relationships – or lack thereof.
It’s difficult, too, to ignore memories of the two popular characters Bergen and Keaton created, namely Murphy Brown and Annie Hall. As Diane, a recently widowed individual, Keaton embraces the classic rhythms of physical comedy.
This is emphasised by an amusing scene in which her character finds herself seated on a plane next to a stranger whom she’ll get to know later as the dashing Mitchell (Andy Garcia). She tumbles over Mitchell’s body to her window seat and then almost knocks him out with a jerking elbow as she tries to get anti-anxiety pills from her purse.
Then a loud noise frightens her, and she grabs into Mitchell’s lower regions to steady herself before mumbling some long-winded apologies. There remains an underlying charm to her performance here.
Jane Fonda plays Vivian. Beautifully groomed, Vivian is a promiscuous bachelorette, who rekindles the fire with her long lost beau, Arthur (Don Johnson).
Candice Bergen portrays Federal Court Judge Sharon. Her stern, critical voice defines her character’s judgmental nature. Against her better judgement, she surfs an online dating site and ends up with the cute, elderly George (Richard Dreyfuss).
And then there is Mary Steenburgen, a character who has been happily married to the same man (Craig T Nelson) for years.
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Bill Holderman
Classification: 13 DLS