Sharon: We are four successful women. I don’t need a man. What is the point?
Diane: Who still has any interest?
Vivian: Ladies, I am not going to let us become those people who stop living before they stop living. I would like to introduce you to Christian Grey.
Carol: It says, “For mature audiences.”
Diane: It certainly sounds like us.
It’s Fifty Shades for seniors as four women well past their prime are introduced to a different type of book in their Book Club. It is through the book, E.L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, that they realize age is just a number as each woman is awoken with a sexual urge that is both surprising and intriguing.
Written and directed by Bill Holderman in collaboration from Erin Simms, who also worked with him in A Walk In The Woods, the two capture the meaning of what women over fifty are really thinking as they go through life. Like A Walk In The Woods, Holderman takes the notion of the older generation who attempt to do the unspeakable and adds new meaning to what it means to be a senior. This story centers around four women, all of which are dealing with some sort of life changing event that has brought them to the point of “why-living.”
Overall, the film is wonderfully cast as each of the four actresses capture the role so fluidly as if they are just living their lives. Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recently widowed woman who is dealing with how to live again, especially when her daughters long to take care of her by relocating her closer to them. Meanwhile, her three friends keep her thinking that there is more to life when Carol (Mary Steenburgen) introduces the women to their next “book club” reading.
Then there is Sharon (Candice Bergen), a successful court judge who has long given up on men and is a comfortable “cat lady;” and Vivian (Jane Fonda), who is still living life as if she is twenty-something, using men for only pleasure without any emotion. Ultimately, Holderman knew what he was doing when casting four powerful women in these roles. Their dynamic chemistry and witty banter made the movie fun and lively as it ultimately sends a message to all to not stop living.
Shot on location in California, there were some recognizable locations including the Santa Monica Pier’s ferris wheel in a scene where Sharon and George (Richard Dreyfuss) go on their first date, as well as the airport scenes. Ultimately, the setting didn’t really matter too much other than just a nice touch to try to guess where they are.
Furthermore, Holderman and Simms use a cunning way of bring literature into the film with the inclusion of Fifty Shades of Grey. Initially, the novel serves as a catapult for various jokes being thrown out from the first scene with the four women together in Diane’s living room talking about the book in relation to the respective men in their lives. The book also serves as a way of moving along the story as the women introduce all three books through the course of the movie. One might also say the women mirror that of Ana when first introduced to Christian Grey. Though the women have all been intimate before, they are seen now as more naive of their sexuality. It’s something that as they read, it is a sexual awakening — though not nearly as graphic as it’s literary companion. Still, it awakens something that the women have yet to experience in a long while.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
The bottom line, Book Club is a entertaining movie that brings women of all ages together to see what life over 50 is all about. It captures the same witty banter of the younger movies that are out including Guilt Trip and Bridesmaids, but it does it in a cleaner, more sophisticated way so it doesn’t just play off as a piece of mindless trash. Rather, it has a little more meaning to what it’s like to be “more mature.”