There are plenty of raunchy old men films, sclerotic efforts like Last Vegas or The Bucket List. It’s only fair that women of a certain age should be seen behaving badly too (aren’t they the only kind worth knowing). Uh oh.
Diane (Keaton), Vivian (Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) are lifelong friends who have discussed books and quaffed wine every month since the late 1960s. Then one of them suggests Fifty Shades of Grey and the women collectively get their mojos back.
But as it turns out, Book Club is only tangentially about Fifty Shades, and that’s what makes it quite smart. It uses E.L. James’s notoriously silly BDSM saga as shorthand for a kind of romantic adventurousness, but the four leads all quickly pick up the beat and explore that idea on their own. They never get around to picking up any chains or whips, but at least one of them sets up a dating app account.
The final product to come out of the deranged premise is a warm, often funny, film that has a lot in common with Something’s Gotta Give and is infinitely more relaxing than an evening in the red room. (research Jack Whiting)