1 hr. 44 min. | Rated M | Offensive language & sexual references
Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Alicia Silverstone, Tommy Dewey
Fonda. Bergen. Keaton. Steenburgen. Four of the most iconic actresses of the 20th century come together for a film in which their book club reads "50 Shades of Grey".
This movie is either in your wheelhouse or it's not, but for those looking forward to "Book Club," it delivers. For what it is — a breezy bit of Nancy Meyers-like fantasy, featuring four beloved actresses talking about sex — it's exceedingly enjoyable. But beyond its shiny surface, the picture is a way to talk about the dehumanizing ways older people are desexualized in our culture and a rallying cry against that trend.
Each actress is given a role that hews closely to her own persona, so the performances aren't necessarily anything we haven't seen before. Jane Fonda plays a wealthy, age-defying hotelier, Vivian, fond of her independence and thigh-high boots, currently entertaining Arthur (Don Johnson), a younger lover from another era. Diane Keaton plays the hilariously high-strung Diane, a recent widow and the mother of two wildly condescending adult daughters (Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton) pressuring her to move to Arizona to play grandma. Mary Steenburgen is Carol, a chef and devoted wife to Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), trying to put some spark back into their 30-year marriage.
But it's Candice Bergen who steals the show, playing Sharon, a long-divorced, no-nonsense federal judge, exploring online dating for the first time after learning of her ex-husband's young new fiancée. Everything Sharon does is wonderfully relatable. Her dry wit is an essential grounding element in a film that could otherwise be far too flighty to take seriously.
The ultimate message of "Book Club," beyond asserting the vitality, sexual appetite and humanity of older people, is that everyone, of any age, who feels stagnant or stuck in their ways has the opportunity, nay, the responsibility to shake it up and put themselves out there — a heavily sanitized riff on "50 Shades." "Book Club" just might be the best adaptation of that book series yet.