BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER (2023)
Release Date: 05/12/23 [Cinemas]
Studio: Focus Features
"Follows the new journey of four best friends as they take their book club to Italy for the fun girls trip they never had."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Book Club (2018) was a raunchy yet innocent film about a group of older women discovering "Fifty Shades of Grey;" the film performed relatively well at the box office back in 2018, so naturally after many delays a sequel has come to light. Alas the sequel, Book Club: The Next Chapter removes the simplicity of the first film and almost throws out the whole “book club” aspect of the film entirely for an international bachelorette party.
Taking place a majority of the time in Italy, you would come to expect from a theatrical release to take full advantage of the scenery. That is not the case with Book Club: The Next Chapter as its visuals are bleak and offer a lacking cinematic quality that fails to ever tempt someone to go to these locations just simply based on their movie-watching experience. While I’ve seen the film once, the theater I saw the film in, created some awkward camera positioning (something that I can’t immediately tell if it was the director’s fault or the projector) with characters heads not being fully shown and instead seemingly cut off by being too close to the camera. As I mentioned, this may not be on the filmmakers but as a first impression of the film – this reflected poorly on the overall quality.
Now the visuals and camerawork generated a bit of annoyance but there was hope that these wonderful actors: Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen could save the project. Unfortunately, this “next chapter” lost the thing that made the original watchable - the characters' chemistry. I’m honestly unsure of where it went, the script was similarly minimal but relocated within a larger scale setting and yet somehow all the friendship I witnessed in the original felt forced here.
I will offer credit when credit is due. The story, while simple, did offer some genuine surprises and while the ending felt very on the nose for the usual romantic outcome, the path to get there felt spontaneous and unpaved. The humor is heedless, as many of the jokes reflect back on humor from the first, while attempting to expand upon these characters' relationships, it offered no reason for these women to return for one more adventure (especially when it’s completely separate from the thing that made the original recognizable). Based on the film’s climax, I would guess that if it were to perform well financially, they have an interest in pulling together a third entry in this proposed franchise(?) but in all honesty this “next chapter” should’ve been more aptly titled “final” as there’s just no where to go from here.