By: Amanda Guarragi
During lockdown, many people were in despair and tried to find ways to occupy their time. Some started learning a new instrument or another language. Others turned to movies and books to escape from this reality. In Book Club: The Next Chapter, the four women who read Fifty Shades of Grey all those years ago reunite in this adventurous sequel. The film begins with the four friends in lockdown learning new technology and still taking part in their book club through Zoom. Once they are free from lockdown, each of their lives changed drastically, and so did their perspective on life. Even though they read many novels during the lockdown, the one they decide to highlight is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho to justify their decisions.
The novel pushes them to have the girl’s trip they never had, all because Carol (Mary Steenburgen) found an old ticket to Italy while she was cleaning. On top of that little omen, Vivian (Jane Fonda) is engaged to be married, so this trip doubles as a bachelorette party with all of them. It’s hard not to love a movie when Italy is the backdrop. This film is a reminder that women can still have fun at any age and live. The four women reference the book throughout because of their decisions in Italy. The opportunity to stay an extra day in Venice or to even go to a lovely dinner party after being invited by a stranger is a sign from the universe. In a way, it’s a refreshing perspective after everything that has happened over the past three years.
What many can gain from this film is that life doesn’t stop for anyone. More importantly, you do not stop living once life gets hard. Life is all about obstacles, and these four women have their issues. Vivian has never wanted to settle down and get married, Sharon (Candice Bergen) is newly retired and is single, Diane (Diane Keaton) has been grieving her husband for years even though she has been in a healthy relationship, and Carol is afraid to seek adventure after her husband suffers a heart attack. They struggle with being older, and life is different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change their lives to be happy again. Incorporating The Alchemist and its connection to the universe formed their path, which worked well for the message they were trying to get across.
Book Club: The Next Chapter is a sweet girls trip movie that puts four older women in a position to make decisions that will better their lives for the time they have left. It explores how life can get away from you each day and that you may be living on autopilot until you force yourself to take a risk. No matter what age, you can decide to change your life without worrying about how big the shift may be. Change is always good. Being spontaneous makes you feel alive, and spending time with your close friends brings some energy. Even though the film does overstay its welcome, you are locked in for the adventure with these four friends who have stood by each other through everything. Fonda and Bergen are delightful as they have one-liners, and their delivery makes for some pretty entertaining moments.