Book Club Blu-ray Review
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Book Club Film Review
Septuagenarian Sex in the City, as four old friends get revved up reading Fifty Shades of Grey for their Book Club, out now on Blu-ray.Blending Grace and Frankie with Sex in the City, Book Club certainly has the star power, proving a lightweight but mostly well-intentioned affair that at least attempts to prove that you're never too old to enjoy your life, even if the ways in which it conveys this message are a little quixotic.
Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergman, and Mary Steenburgen provide the clout, with them all playing to their Sex in the City-mould roles: the 80-year old Fonda is the highly sexualised equivalent (she hasn't experienced love in 40 years), with Diane Keaton the coy one, Mary Steenburgen the one who is frustrated over her own marriage, and Candice Bergman the one who hasn't had sex in a long time. They all react differently to the reading of Fifty Shades, as Fonda gets drawn to a long lost love she hasn't seen in decades (toy boy Don Johnson), Keaton gets wooed by Andy Garcia's infinitely charming pilot, Steenburgen tries to spice things up with her distant husband, and Bergman attempts internet dating from the confines of her Judge's quarters.
Sure to appeal to the Grace and Frankie crowd.
Indeed it sometimes feels as if the story would have been better left for the original Sex and the City cast (even if they're not old enough yet), rather than pushed upon these memorable screen legends (exclusions apply), who flit between some fun scenes of physical comedy, warm scenes of charming romance, and often awkward scenes of heavily sexualised banter. It's at its best when Keaton and Garcia and flirting (although there's no real reason why all of the male love interests needs to be decades younger), and at its oddest when Fonda is dressing like she's still in Klute.
It's at its worst when giving four clearly talented actresses nothing substantial to do except dash from contrived encounter to cliched exchange, without any concern for offering anything meaningful to the subjects they loosely skirt around. Nevertheless Book Club wields its own largely harmless, lightweight, fun charm; the female equivalent of something like Last Vegas, which is sure to appeal to the Grace and Frankie crowd.
Book Club Blu-ray PictureBook Club comes to UK region free Blu-ray complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. There's clearly only so much that makeup can do to make these 70+ and 80 year olds look younger than age otherwise dictates, and so the style of the picture is inherently soft focus. This, equally inherently, robs the image of some natural detail. Nonetheless it's a clean, clear modern image which eschews noise and digital defects in favour of relative polish and generally pleasing detail levels.
The style of the picture is inherently soft focus.
The colour scheme is rich and warm, offering natural(-ish) skin tones and nice interiors, from the pristine but largely homely households to the various locales that occasionally (thanks largely to the presence of a pilot) dip into gorgeous sunsets in pretty locations (albeit, for some reason, rendered as if they were on a green-screen from the 50s). Background colours are vibrant enough, and black levels remain solid with no over signs of crush. It's a decent enough image, limited somewhat by the soft focus style but suiting the material nonetheless.
Book Club Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is decent enough but also unexceptional, running a little low, but nothing the volume knob can't rectify, with solid prioritisation for the key elements of dialogue, score and effects. Of course it's the dialogue which remains the most important component whilst the whimsical score (which often devalues the content with its inane, goofy tones) is often trying to compete for presence.
Decent but also unexceptional.
Dialogue remains prioritised across the frontal array, with the gravely tones still relatively clear and coherent. Effects are ambient and atmospheric in their entirety, with a few more engulfing environments created for plane journeys or gushing fountains, but most of the noises left in the background. The score is a little silly really, accentuating the more frivolous nature of the movie when it could have attempted something playful but not throwaway; it nonetheless gets fine coverage and gives the surrounds a little more to engage with.
Book Club Blu-ray ExtrasThere's a whole host of Featurettes looking at the premise, the cast and characters, and the locations, as well as some Deleted Scenes.
Book Club Blu-ray VerdictBook Club wields its own largely harmless, lightweight, fun charm.
Certain to appeal to the Grace and Frankie / Sex and the City crowd, Book Club wastes its impressive roster of veteran actresses and actors, but nonetheless affords a lightweight distraction for those who appreciate the aforementioned franchises. The Blu-ray release delivers solid, at times even very good, but far from exceptional, video and audio, as well as a nice collection of extras. It's a decent purchase for fans of the film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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