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Book Club 2: The Next Chapter

average rating is 3 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

May 20, 2023

Film Reviews
Book Club 2: The Next Chapter
Directed by:
Bill Holderman
Written by:
Bill Holderman, Erin Simms
Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen

So what happens to Hollywood actors when their star inevitably begins to fade? It’s a fate that befalls the very best exponents of the art. The ageing process will entail a shift from leading actor to character supporting roles. They might retreat into semi-retirement or branch into TV. Where the big screen is concerned they either wait for the revival of a film made in their prime; or jump into a role that exploits their maturity in older age. Book Club 2 falls into the latter category and plunders some very big players from yesteryear.


Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen reprise their roles from the original Book Club made in 2018. Diane, Vivian, Sharon and Carol are four best friends united by their love of literature and lifelong angst in relationships. Vivian (Jane Fonda) drops a bombshell when she announces her engagement to old flame Arthur (Don Johnson). The friends react with astonishment as she brandishes a sparkler on her finger. It leaves them with a straight run of single, widowed, married and engaged in the relationship stakes. When Carol stumbles across an old diary it rekindles a holiday the girls planned but never took. They duly take a trip to Italy and turn it into a bachelorette party for Vivian.


The original premise for the Book Club seems to have been buried in a more conventional rom-com format. Although there are occasional references to ‘The Alchemist’ by Paolo Coelho the focus is on a girl’s holiday where relationships are dissected and analysed. The film almost runs like an advert for the Italian tourist board; Rome, Venice and Tuscany have never looked more vivid or beautiful. The plot feels laboured and the narrative is running on little more than fumes.


The finale is over-cooked and largely unnecessary as it delivers the same message. We live our lives by design but fate plays a significant part, regardless of the control we seek to impose. However, what saves this film from complete mediocrity is the performance of an excellent ensemble cast. The leading quartet display a natural chemistry and are obviously comfortable in each other’s company. They are ably assisted by talented supporting players including Andy Garcia and Hugh Quarshie. It fails the sequel versus original test but there’s enough here to maintain the interest.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
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