Review – Book Club : The Next Chapter

The perfect rom-com for those of the age where they might feel like romance is dead.

Book Club left us back in 2018 with four friends trying to find romance in their 60s and 70s. That was thanks to the book club they have where they explored the worldwide craze, 50 Shades of Grey.

It was a hilarious poke at finding love later in life and finding it in all the wrong places. And sometimes just letting go to have a bit of fun.

That theme of letting go continues into The Next Chapter based very loosely around Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist. Of which, The Alchemist is one of the world’s most translated books by a living author. It’s sold over 150 million copies worldwide. A great feat considering it was only published in 1988.

The four friends: Vivian (Jane Fonda), Carol Mary Steenburgen), Diane (Diane Keaton) and Sharon (Candice Bergen) have continued their book club over the years. More so during the COVID-19 lockdowns that cursed the world. But when restrictions are lifted and they can finally see each other, Vivian comes with some big news. She’s engaged.

This sets in motion the trip of a lifetime and the four jet off on a bachelorette trip through Italy.

These retired ladies have a rough itinerary, but there’s no time frame to when they have to do it. Ladies of leisure you could say. They explore the sites of Rome and question how it is they’re only now doing this together. They sample all the culinary delights and find any excuse to sip a glass of wine after a day on their feet. Or during the day. There’s no time like any time to enjoy a wine according to these ladies.

As you can imagine, things don’t always go to plan. But the light-hearted overtone of the film, means all these bad luck moments are either comical or shrugged off. Sticking to that “letting go” motto.

The trip ends with a surprise Vivien didn’t see coming, Diane certainly wasn’t expecting, Sharon didn’t want to have to do and Carol needed it.

The Next Chapter is very much akin to the comedy style of the 90s. And while for the most part it’s a humour that hasn’t worked on the big screen for quite some years, these veterans of Comedy quite simply nail it. It’s not just their comedic timing, it’s their ability to subtly hint to the audience “There’s some humour here, we’ll leave it to you to figure out”.

It’s also that comedic style that makes everything in the movie convenient. Their luggage is stolen, a rich friend helps them. Their car breaks down, a sexy policeman happens to come past. As convenient as it all is, it keeps the movie light and to a pace that doesn’t let you stop for a second to think how long this movie has been.

While the first film did tend to put a tiny bit more focus on the whole book side of things. This second instalment casually uses it to bind it to the first film, rather than use it as a focus. Which is fine, it doesn’t change how enjoyable the film is. It’s more a wasted opportunity to have more fun on the road.

Book Club: The Next Chapter is exactly as the cover says. There are no hidden messages or stern lessons. They aren’t trying to break the rom-com structure we’ve all come to either love or hate. It’s a film about four friends on holiday and the shenanigans they can find themselves in. As long as they’re in bed before 9. If you don’t find yourself having a good laugh along the way, you’ll certainly catch yourself smiling a whole darn lot.

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