Okay so I saw a bunch of trailers for this movie – but that was an under-the-radar kind of thing, I looked because it had “Book Club” in the title, and, um, you know, there’s this connection between me and books. Then I watched the trailers and I knew I had to go see it.
I sat in the theater with an audience of sisters (Women of a Certain Age, and a smattering of brave and equally Certain Age’d men who were roped into the outing by their women).
Just before the lights went down for the feature presentation, while we were still in dim-down for the trailers — Honestly? You show this crowd a trailer for “Mission Impossible”? Were you hoping to keep the menfolk in the audience awake for a bit longer before they zoned out on the chick flick? — I glanced around the auditorium. It’s been a while since I have seen this much gray hair in a cinema. I warmed to them all.
The movie was a gem.
People were laughing out loud at scenes and situations — in recognition, in sympathy, in affection. Most of us have been – or know someone who has been – through a bunch of situations not dissimilar to the ones being portrayed on the screen, if you take away the fairy tale aspect of it, being People With Money up there and the problems having to be being adjusted accordingly.
You’ve got these four women who have been lifelong friends and members of a shared book club:
Jane Fonda – the “rich bitch” who owns REAL real estate, as in hotels, and has been pretty adept at keeping heartbreak at bay by simply choosing not to get involved at all, with anything genuine, and whose encounter with a man who is a Blast from the Past really wakes her up to the fact that she’s running out of time to live a life that isn’t just a plastic facsimile you stick in a window to be admired;
Diane Keaton – who is making a career of portraying older women waiting for love to find them, and who this time gets to have the full fairy tale by being whisked off into a palace in the rich red mesas of Sedona by a good looking airline pilot after having to bulldoze her way through overprotective kids who want to ensconce widowed Mom into non-slip cotton-wool-lined basement apartments where they can “keep an eye on her”;
Mary Steenburgen – whose hilarious attempts to reignite the flickering flame of her decades-old marriage when her husband seems to have more of an eye towards restoring an old motorcycle (oh dear god, the episode with an overdose of Viagra in his beer…) culminates in a showstopper where the two of them do a bumbling but glorious dance on a tarted up community hall stage to Meatloaf’s “I will do anything for love”;
Candice Bergen – whose forays into online dating and Spanx underwear and whose caustic wit truly steals the show.
I’d have to watch this again (and again and again and again) for the nuances, and to be able to line-quote dialogue at you – but I don’t need to. I just have to say that it’s been a while since I’ve left a movie theater giggling and grinning, and all around me were women who were doing exactly the same thing.
It’s entirely possible that this is one of those movies which will eventually end up syndicated in TV re-runs and if it shows up on the small screen I intend to rewatch with a great deal of pleasure given any opportunity to do so.
Sometimes Hollywood steps back from the car chases and the explosions and the endless shootouts and they deliver a jewel like this. It is probable that it won’t make a packet, it is not entirely unexpected that it had no buzz and no buildup and isn’t going clean up at the box office, it is a given that there are people out there who are going to say, “four old women? You gotta be kidding me” and go watch “Infinity War” for the sixth time instead.
But on behalf of those of us who took one look at the movie trailers and went racing to the cinemas to push handfuls of dollars into the ticket booths and yelp, “Take my money, please!” – oh, Hollywood – oh, these four blessed, delightful women – thank you. (I even forgive them for giving “Fifty Shades of Gray” any more publicity than it has already had for all the wrong reasons…) Even if it was just for a couple of blissful hours, we Women of a Certain Age were loved, treasured, and vindicated.
I, for one, still newish to my cronehood but definitely starting to settle into it, appreciate it.
See also Shape of Water review HERE