Book Club: The Next Chapter

Verdict: It is a joy to be reunited with these four actresses for their fun and uplifting European adventure

  • Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson
  • May 12th 2023
  • Bill Holderman

Our four fabulous friends, Diane, Vivan, Sharon and Carol, head to Italy for a girls trip in this sequel to 2018’s Book Club.

The wonderful chemistry between Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen in 2018’s Book Club was such a hit that they’ve all returned for a sequel.

In the first film, the four longtime pals regularly met up at their homes to drink wine and discuss the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, which prompted them to question their love lives.

In The Next Chapter, taking inspiration from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) take a trip to Italy for a fun girls’ trip they’ve never had.

The biggest strength in both films is the camaraderie between these four actresses.

Their decades-long friendship feels so believable and it is a joy to watch them simply talking with each other. They are hilarious, have a fun rapport, and make the dialogue come alive.

All four of them are perfectly cast as their respective characters and the film would not be as good without such a strong ensemble; each protagonist is given a subplot of their own but the film truly shines when the four are together.

The first Book Club was a romantic comedy confined to their friends’ homes and workplaces in Los Angeles, so naturally, this sequel feels much bigger in scale.

The new location gives the follow-up a change of pace and a new sense of purpose and a greater potential for many things to go wrong.

There is still a lot of romance content in the sequel, but it’s a comedy caper too.

The Next Chapter revolves around the book much less than the previous outing. The Alchemist inspires them to go travelling at first but there are no more book discussions after that – they are in picturesque Italy after all!

The script was amusing but the jokes could have been funnier and sexual innuendo could have been deployed a little less.

Although the third act was a lovely idea, it was written in a very heavy-handed and overly sentimental way.

If you think there isn’t enough romance content throughout the film, rest assured that it makes up for it big time in the end.

This is unlikely to convert any newcomers, but if you liked the original, be sure to check in with our four fabulous friends on their uplifting trip to Italy!

In cinemas from Friday 12th May.

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