Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: Film Review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: Film Review


Cast: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode
Director: Mike Newell
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: Film Review

Already a contender for the most unwieldy title of the cinematic year, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is the celluloid equivalent of a comfy jumper - it starts off feeling snugly and comfortable but gradually begins to rub and irritate.

Set in 1946 post-war London, James stars as successful, but restless, author Juliet Ashton. With a series of successful wartime novels under her belt, although published under a male pseudonym, Juliet is looking for a new challenge, and dealing with the trauma of losing her parents to the conflict.

When a letter from Guernsey arrives one day from Dawsey Adams (Huisman, all smouldering stubble and dark eyed looks), it ignites something in her and a connection with the island. Asked to attend the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society on the island, she heads over much to the chagrin of her agent (the ever-charming Matthew Goode).

But when there, she discovers a mystery, steeped in tragedy, that she can't help but try to unravel.

Anodyne and the kind of fare that won't trouble an older audience, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a film that's content to be pleasant and nothing more.

It's totally predictable from the moment Juliet and Dawsey start corresponding, and there are a few narrative leaps which are probably due to the fact it's adapted from a terribly successful book which employs flashbacks to 1941 to fill out the mystery and the central story.

James and Huisman are fine, but the lion's share of the film's emotional heft and acting goes to Penelope Wilton as one of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society's number.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: Film Review

Her character's story is steeped in tragedy and Wilton does an excellent job of conveying this and much more, swinging from tart dismissal of Juliet's involvement to silent acceptance of what's happened - the old timers of this film, it has to be said, act the youngsters off the screen.

Ultimately, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society won't trouble you - it's a thoroughly down-the-line British dramedy that goes on a little too long, but never loses sight of what it's trying to do. It won't win any awards, but it certainly will fill a rainy afternoon in its comforting old time mystery romance vibe.

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