Book Club

First Hit: Although the age ranges they portrayed didn’t work, as a comedy it was out-loud funny.

The actual age ranges between these women (Fonda 81 & Steenburgen 65) was too wide ranging for me to believe that they were nearly lifelong friends. This part of the story needed cleaning up. However, once I got past this, I found the story funny, poignant, and enjoyable.

At the time I went to see this film, 11:00 AM, there was a small crowd of older women. I think I was the only man in the audience. And initially, they were laughing at just about everything. I was only mildly amused.

Yet something happened as the film went on, I found myself enjoying the pointed jabs at age, men, sex, and technology. What made it work was the actors themselves. They all have been around long enough for the audience to know them a little. The parts they played were perfect to how we know them.

The vehicle the story uses for these women to get together once a month is a Monthly Book club. They’ve been meeting monthly for over forty years and in doing so, they have learned to love and accept each other as they are.

Diane (Diane Keaton) was grounded in her flighty Annie Hall sort of way. Watching her slow build to telling her grown protective children that she was still capable of being happy, learning, and having fun experiences with a man was pointedly clear.

Vivian (Jane Fonda) played the rich I don’ need anyone loner was perfect. Jane has generally shown her skittishness towards being vulnerable and in this role, she has to become vulnerable with the man who shows up to her again after forty years.

Sharon (Candice Bergen) was the professional woman, who had her cat and her Federal Judgeship to keep her happy. After her divorce her husband Tom (Ed Begley Jr.) found love in someone one third his age. She said she couldn’t care less and was happy presiding over her courtroom until....

And Carol (Mary Steenburgen) was the only married woman in the group. Her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) and her still liked sex. However, after his retirement party six months earlier, he was disinterested in her sexually and seemed lost.

Early in the film, the group meets and it’s Vivian’s turn to select a book. She chooses Fifty Shades of Grey. This gets all the women thinking about their sex life and eventually their love life.

Diane is afraid of flying and meets a very rich pilot Mitchell (Andy Garcia). Vivian runs into her old beau Arthur (Don Johnson) who is still in love with her. Sharon decides to try internet dating and meets up with George (Richard Dreyfus) an accountant and someone who really likes her. And Carol finds devious ways to try to get Bruce interested in sex again.

As you might imagine, older women finding that they are interested in love and intimacy is relevant to all people at any age.

Keaton was quirkily funny in both her actions (paddling a floating swan in a pool) and words. She can really shine when the role calls for it, and it does here. Fonda, I must admit, is someone I’ve adored for her intelligent skittishness towards men. Here she shows that she still has that power over me at 81. Bergen was the character I had the most reservations about. I never liked her TV role of Murphy Brown much, but here she shines. I loved her projections of herself on her contented cat. Steenburgen had the most difficult role because she was still in a relationship. However, the scene with the cop stopping her and Bruce after she spiked his beer with Viagra was funny. Nelson was very good as the reluctant husband finding his way after retirement. Garcia was excellent as the pilot who wanted to whisk Diane away. Johnson was very good as the very romantic younger man who still held a lot of love for Vivian. Dreyfus was funny and appropriately stuffy as the accountant that had found his match. Them getting out of the back seat of Sharon’s car was funny. Bill Holderman and Erin Simms wrote a script that worked for these actors. Holderman’s direction was strong enough to get me laughing out loud.

Overall: I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.