GUERNSEY LITERARY POTATO PEEL PIE LITERARY SOCIETY, THE
Juliet Ashton (Lily James), a free-spirited, successful writer living in post-war London, is struggling to find inspiration for her next writing project. When she receives a letter from Guernsey farmer, Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), she impulsively heads for Guernsey, where she hopes to write about the curiously named book club formed under the German occupation in WW2. Juliet is charmed by Guernsey and everyone she meets including Dawsey, with whom she forms a close bond. But she soon realises there are secrets which the locals are eager will remain secret. Meanwhile her publisher Sidney (Matthew Goode) is becoming impatient, as is Juliet's new fiancˇ, an American GI Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell), who is wondering why she is staying away so long.
Review by Louise Keller:
If the film's intriguing title gives you an appetite, take the leap and have a bite. Having the courage to reach for what you want is the essence of this engaging film that captures not only the imagination but also the heart. Adapted from the novel by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell uses his considerable skills to weave together a richly layered film that is both uplifting and moving. It encompasses a war story, a mystery tale and a love triangle, while instilling an enticing sense of place for its stunning Guernsey setting. Lily Taylor shines as the protagonist, a writer searching for her milieu and direction in life. It's delightful.
After a brief establishment scene set in 1941 in which the film's title is explained, the story begins in 1946 London, where we meet Taylor's Juliet Ashton, who is looking for something serious about which to write. Flashback sequences reveal that Juliet is working at resolving some of her own past issues. An unexpected letter; a curiously named book club; a remote location and a pig farmer are the triggers that entice her to set sail for Guernsey, leaving behind a book signing tour and an American fiancˇ (Glen Powell as Mark Reynolds), who has swept Juliet off her feet.
The weight of the war and occupation by the Germans remains a heavy burden and scar to the locals; the joys of the film encompass all the little details that describe character and behaviour. From fish out of water, Juliet quickly becomes comfortable in her new environment, making friends with the members of the local literary society that was formed during the war as a refuge. There are no surprises that the chemistry between pig farmer Dawsey Adams (Game of Throne's Michiel Huisman) and Juliet sizzles from the outset. We cannot help but compare the complex, sincere Dawsey with the superficial, slightly smarmy Mark.
Huisman is a charismatic leading man and Matthew Goode is excellent, if underused as Juliet's old friend and publisher. A wealth of English talent is gathered to portray the locals: Penelope Wilton as the superior Amelia, Tom Courtenay as the postmaster who makes the pies of the title, Katherine Parkinson as the gin-making Isola and Jessica Brown Findlay as lovely, brave Elizabeth, whose absence is key to the mystery Juliet is trying to unravel. Special mention to Kit Connor, the youngster who plays Eben's grandson Eli.
Juliet's journey is a personal one and we are with her all the way as she discovers the stepping-stones that lead her to her destiny. Through the lens of cinematographer Zac Nicholson, the film looks a treat (shooting locations are Guernsey, Devon and Cornwall). The scenery is gorgeous, the music rousing and the production design faultless as Newell's tapestry of characters, place and emotions comes together. It's about books, values, priorities, love, and above all having the courage to pursue your dreams. It's as scrumptious as its title.
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GUERNSEY LITERARY POTATO PEEL PIE LITERARY SOCIETY, THE (M)
(US, UK, 2018)
CAST: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Glen Powell, Kit Connor
PRODUCER: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Mitchell Kaplan, Paula Mazur
DIRECTOR: Mike Newell
SCRIPT: Kevin Hood (Novel by Annie Barrows, Mary Ann Shaffer)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Zac Nicholson
EDITOR: Paul Tothill
MUSIC: Alexandra Harwood
PRODUCTION DESIGN: James Merifield
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 19, 2018