Diane Keaton Jane Fonda Candice Bergen Mary Steenburgen
Andy Garcia Craig T. Nelson Don Johnson Richard Dreyfuss
This bit of froth proceeds just about as expected, given the cast and the topic. Older women do daring things and after ups and downs, (almost) everything turns out groovy in the end. The characters are rather stereotypical, except maybe for Vivian (Fonda), who chose career over marriage and has become a wealthy woman. Sharon (Bergen) is a Federal judge who’s been divorced for 18 years. Diane (Keaton) lost her husband a year ago, and has two daughters who are rushing her into the grave and overly parenting her, or trying to. Carol (Steenburgen) is happily married to Bruce (Nelson), but he has shut down since his retirement. Their relationship needs a shot or something in the you-know-where.
The four women have been friends for years, their connection currently centering on their book club. Vivian decides to spice things up, and when it’s her turn to choose the book, she passes around E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Her friends are horrified, but each one (guiltily) charges through it, and it seems to have a unique effect on each one, egged along by more frank discussions about how the women really see each other. Basically they all need to get out more, out of their particular rut. Sharon is prompted to go to an online dating site; Diane piques a fellow traveler’s interest by reading her book on the plane, after she has literally fallen into his lap getting into her seat; and Carol tries sexual come-ons in the book to arouse Bruce’s interest. Vivian doesn’t “try” anything; she is convinced she has found the key to happiness. Then an old school chum, Arthur (Johnson), surfaces and begins provoking her.
Bill Holderman (director and co-writer with Erin Simms) has created a crowd pleaser (going by the reactions of the audience in the screening I attended) that contains sit-com humor, predictable complications, and a fanciful ending. Another idealistic treatment is reflected in the highly attractive appearances of most of the characters—certainly the women, and arguably for the men, as there was audible panting when Andy Garcia appeared.
There is little of substance in the story; the best dialog comes toward the end when the friends become more open and realin their conversations. But for the most part, the story is more pie-in-the- sky than anything based on reality. The best part of the movie is seeing the abundantly talented well-cast actresses doing what they do best—acing their roles as written for them. If only the writers had opted to portray a more realistic picture of this stage in a woman’s life; I assure you, it would contain many more shadings and nuances, and likely be a much more interesting film.
A rather skewed, fanciful view of the lives of women past a certain age.