Review / ‘Book Club’ (M) ***

Diane Keaton, left, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen in “Book Club”.

THIS is the first feature directed by Bill Holderman whose career in movies has been mainly producing docos and short films.

It’s a mature-age chick flick that looks at issues confronting older women (and, occasionally, also their men) who’ve been successful as mothers and in business.

It’s to Holderman’s (or perhaps co-writer Erin Simms’) credit that the screenplay understands things in a dramatically-fertile paddock that do or don’t loom large in the lives of such women. The result is 104 minutes of movie time mature enough to avoid the dramatic traps of chick flicks aimed at the younger set.

Who are these mature ladies? Leading the pack is Candice Bergen, dispensing justice on a Federal Court Bench, not worried by a thickening body or the emptiness of her apartment (save for a lethargic white cat). Diane Keaton plays Diane, scared-of-flying mother of two adult daughters, one about to give birth. Mary Steenburgen has a good marriage with a dullish husband who shares ownership of a restaurant and a life-seeking diversion. And Jane Fonda, whose once lovely features here display the consequences of either plastic surgery or time’s ravages, or both, is Vivian, who has one use only for men and it’s not economic ‘cos she owns a boutique hotel.

What book are the ladies reading this month? “Fifty Shades of Grey”. And in ensuing months, that title’s successors. Fortunately, those publishing successes receive but scant attention in the story as does Erica Jong’s better-written chick-lit “Fear Of Flying”.

At the day’s first screening, I was the only bloke in the cinema. I sat a few seats away from two ladies probably early in their geriatric stage who made little sound of enjoyment, amusement or disapproval. I enjoyed it, mainly because while I could never aspire to the story’s higher economic bracket, its mix of characters and events was rather less indigestible than just about every other chick flick I’ve seen.

At all cinemas

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