Old people suffer from being stereotyped as senile, dribbling, incontinent malcontents. Unfortunately it’s a stereotype that fits our Editor only too well. (‘You’re fired!‘ – Ed). However there are a generation of elderly Hollywood legends who are anything but like that and at 80 years old Jane Fonda is one of them. In Book Club she’s joined by 72 year old Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen and the comparitively youthful 64 year old Mary Steenburgen.
The four play life long friends who regularly meet at each other’s houses as part of their own Book Club. How they have time to do this is anyone’s guess because Fonda runs a huge hotel , Bergen is High court judge, Steenburgen runs a successful restaurant and Keaton is just generally ditzy. When they do met up at their book club the novels are quickly sidelined in favour of quaffing vats of wine and a gossip about their respective love lives. All but Steenburgen are divorced but have their own way of dealing with it. Fonda spends the time bedding so many males that she will inevitably end up being buried in a Y shaped coffin but rekindles a relationship with an old boyfriend Don Johnson. Bergen refrains from relationships investing her affection on a cat whilst her husband dates women a quarter of his age yet she exercises her silver surfer skills on a dating website where she goes on a string of dates including one with another Hollywood legend Richard Dreyfuss. Steenburgen tries to rekindle her sex life with her husband played by Craig T Nelson and the only old bike he’s interested in riding is a motorcycle he’s restoring. Whilst Keaton finds an unexpected romance with an airline pilot played by a paunchy Andy Garcia.
All of this has been instigated by their Book Club reading the 50 Shades of Grey novels whose author must be over the moon with all the free publicity with which the film gives her books. This is one of those girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back and lives happily ever after and there are no real surprises here . The real draw of the film though is seeing a cast of mature female actors who are usually sidelined to supporting roles as the 68 year old Meryl Streep seems to have first all on every script requiring an older woman. Fonda at 80 looks astonishing and appears to have got younger as she s got older and apart from Bergen they have all been at the hair dye here. Bergen is the only one to which age has not been as forgiving and become almost unrecognisable but she shows a great flair for comedy here. That said it can hardly have been a compliment for Steenbergen to have been offered the role of a sexless pensioner but again she looks great.
Apparently the studio wanted younger women to play the roles which seems to defeat the whole point of the film but the #MeToo & women first movement must have been breaking news at the 30-something studio executives when the script was greenlit. As one of the women says, ‘Some things stand the test of time’ which these actresses have proved.
Here’s the trailer…….