For Diane Keaton and her equally talented friends to embark on an adaptation of Goodreads and book collectors in clubs, Book Club: The Next Chapter does a number on them. A book club where reading is not the primary focus. Barely a book mentioned and to its credit, it is very hard to think of anything duller than watching the elderly read. Even then, it would be far more entertaining to see Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen read while the likes of Craig T. Nelson and Don Johnson shuffle around in the background trying to engage in the book club conversation. Still it stands that Peep Show is the only successful and truthful adaptation of the feral dangers of book club attendance. Cinema-goers must wait another era to see a group read of Sense and Sensibility.
What they can have instead is a trip through the streets of Italy, a fine way to spend their morning while the sun beams down and the brain has not fully woken up. Some crisp and easy-going efforts from a film which opens with American Girl but ends with a sparkling group hug. Bleeding optimism and not much else, the likeable lightness of Book Club: The Next Chapter comes from the four-piece leading the charge. An absolute bundle of talent who throw everything they have at a story which needs very little. Is it fun to watch four pals swan about Italy? According to people on BeReal, no. According to Book Club: The Next Chapter, yes. A real longing to go back to a country which would happily drown you is right there in the back of the mind and part of the reason for engaging Book Club: The Next Chapter.
Bill Holderman sees four friends through a universe conspiring for and against them. No ties strapping them down to swanning around Italy, drinking wine and mourning dead cats. Keaton absolutely shines through this one, her presence in film for the last five years has been that of still strong lead in the movies she loved in her heyday, and a chilling turn in The Young Pope. She and the trio joining her on this Italian trip are more than capable of fine works and where Book Club: The Next Chapter is fluffy, it is also lightly funny in spots. Candice Bergen has some delightful lines about being around crumbling cities. But it soon spirals into quoting Moonstruck and blowing a hole in the relationships of firm friends.
Horrible times seem to follow when wine is consumed. These lightweights are having a sip from a glass and seeing their life spiral. Have a bottle. Cowards. Book Club: The Next Chapter is light, loose and forgettable fun. Sometimes this is the best way to start the day is by seeing beautiful panning shots of a place you know has a fantastic bar in Lido. Book Club: The Next Chapter probably works a little better if you know half of this dream holiday would never happen. It is far too hot to move anywhere but screening rooms and pubs. Train-hopping and living the once-in-a-lifetime dream to the sound of Italian covers of hit tracks you can identify through the instrumentals. Such is the corner-cutting necessary to host a trip across a gorgeous country, in a rather messy-looking film from Holderman.