“You already know what books can do – something we can share – no matter how different our lives may be.” – Dawsey Adams
This Netflix original is adapted from Cathryn McDowell’s novel with the exact title. A correspondence starts amongst author, Juliet Ashton and members of a forbidden book club called the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The book club members share their experiences and stories of their time on the Nazi-occupied Guernsey during the war. After an idea for a book sparks Juliet’s attention, she goes to visit the island where she makes lifelong friends and proceeds to take steps that change her life along the way. The book was told in a letter format where it is obvious that Juliet comes to love each of the islanders; Dawsey, Amelia, Eben, Kit, Elizabeth, and Isola. Ultimately, it is an enchanting story of love, friendship, and the sadness of friends lost.
If you are unsure of whether you want to watch this movie due to the “mouth full” of a title, don’t let it detour you. Ultimately, the movie is incredibly predictable regarding dialogue and with how the plot flows. But the predictable plot is captivating and charming. It follows a very formulaic outline where some characters experience trauma (in this case via the Nazis inhabiting the island during WWII), a higher status person, and a love triangle of sorts. There were a few times throughout the movie where I completely lost interest in it due to how predictable it was.
Naturally, Lily James put forth a stunning performance as author Juliet Ashton. She was captivated by a book club on Guernsey Island as well as the members of said book club. Her interest in knowing more about them seemed one-sided for a handful of reasons. But to be fair, if I were to be part of an obscure book club that was forbidden and someone who was clearly from a different upbringing and a more comfortable life wanted to write about us – I would view it poorly as well. When Juliet went to the book club there was an awkward and disjointed reaction between two of the book club members. The awkwardness seemed drawn out and unneeded, but completely warranted at the same time.
Problem one I had with the movie was the lack of shattered aftermath that was missing from the movie adaptation. The war and its shattered aftermath are central to the plot of the film. Newell, the director, seemed to leave most of the real-ness and ugliness of both the war and its aftermath offscreen. A second problem I had with the movie was that one of the key players, Elizabeth, was mysteriously off the island and no one could say when she would return. Additionally, the residents of the island are unexpectedly unwilling to share their story and are not eager to be written about either. Not that that is a problem, just feel like Juliet Ashton should have seen that coming. The third and final problem I had with the movie was that the history of what happened on Guernsey during the Nazi occupation was more complex and complicated than anticipated was more of a surprise to Juliet Ashton than it was the viewers. In my opinion, it should have been a surprise to both if it is done right.
Overall, it isn’t a bad movie and if you are into love stories and older-like films than you should check it out. Just because I had mixed feelings on it doesn’t mean you will.
What did you think of the movie? Comment on this review and let me know your thoughts!