Book Club (3 stars)

Book Club

Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton get fruity as they sink their teeth into Fifty Shades

The sex lives of seniors are rarely discussed onscreen, but when four old friends gather to read Fifty Shades of Grey for their book club it unleashes a torrent of outrageous innuendo, delivered with relish by a superior and deliciously game cast.

What sounds like a concept dreamed up by EL James's marketing team is merely a 'novel' hook that inspires very little in the way of kink. Rather, this ensemble drama sees the group reassess their love and sex lives, getting frank with each other and their partners.

Hollywood has long snubbed and sidelined its older actresses, so Book Club is to be applauded for welcoming four of its best back into the limelight. Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen play Diane, Vivian, Sharon and Carol, women of pensionable age who are glamorous, vigorous and successful but, in their own ways, struggling.

Under the stewardship of debut director Bill Holderman (one of the screenwriters of A Walk in the Woods, who co-writes here with Erin Simms), it's devoid of even a second of subtlety and is set in a series of almost absurdly lovely locations. The men are twinkle-eyed charmers (including Richard Dreyfuss and Don Johnson); Andy Garcia proves particularly entertaining playing an airline pilot who pursues Keaton like a cat who knows he's getting the cream (or a man that's just farted, depending on your susceptibility to smirking).

Yet the foregrounding of these formidable dames is the major selling point here; Bergen steals the show from stiff competition playing a sex-starved judge learning to embrace her wild side, with the more risqué Fonda's enthusiastic encouragement.

As the foursome become sidetracked by their relationship dramas, Book Club loses its zip but united they are magnificent, bouncing off each other and each bringing something different to the table. And the positive, liberated depiction of later-life is heartening indeed in a film that's as irresistibly cheeky as it is shamelessly cheesy.

General release from Fri 1 Jun.

Book Club

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Bill Holderman
  • Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen

Four women (Keaton, Fonda, Bergen and Steenburgen) form a book club to read Fifty Shades of Grey, and in so doing reassess their lives. Irresistibly cheeky and shamelessly cheesy ensemble drama in which older women are placed in the centre of the action, with a torrent of innuendo delivered with relish by a superior cast.