Book Club: The Next Chapter
A sequel to the 2018 film Book Club from Bill Holderman and Erin Simms, Book Club: The Next Chapter follows the members of the titular book club – Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) – as they go on a trip to Italy to celebrate Vivian’s engagement to Arthur (Don Johnson). Following the lockdowns imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the girls are happy to be out adventuring together, but things go wrong as they are wont to do.
This is a fairly straightforward story, executed competently but without any real surprises or even much in the way of narrative friction beyond mild hijinks (and even then, the characters are well-off enough that they can laugh off most inconveniences). There are vague thematic throughlines, such as the recurring motif of fate punctuated by the club’s latest book of choice, Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist, but the film isn’t particularly interested in committing to or exploring its themes as much as it is in having loose, casual fun in Italy, held together by one-liners and double entendres (which are frequent if not always particularly funny).
While it’s definitely lacking in narrative ambition, Book Club: The Next Chapter is a movie positively dripping with sentiment. It doesn’t quite have the conviction in its own storytelling to be genuinely affecting, but it can be a pleasant and tender experience when it dials back the shenanigans and gives its leading ladies the room to shine. It’s a shame that the generally weak script doesn’t give its main cast much to work with to take the production to places outside of (in its marketing’s own words) “slightly scandalous” and inoffensively sweet, but their performances nevertheless do a lot to punch up the writing where it counts.
Book Club: The Next Chapter is a film aimed squarely at a specific demographic, which is to say the demographics represented by its main cast. Audiences who see something of themselves in the flick’s four protagonists are in for an entertaining, if insubstantial, 108 minutes. For anyone else, the experience might leave something to be desired with its uncomplicated script and saccharine tone. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a glass of prosecco – unlikely to ruin a night out, but similarly unlikely to turn it into the best night out ever.
Book Club: The Next Chapter is released nationwide on 12th May 2023.
Watch the trailer for Book Club: The Next Chapter here: