Thursday, August 23, 2018

Movie with Abe: The Bookshop

Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment

The Bookshop
Directed by Isabel Coixet
Released August 24, 2018

Books have a power to transport people out of their worlds and into completely new, boundless realms. While this reviewer prefers movies because of how they visualize and realize stories, books can have an even grander possibility to let those turning their pages escape to somewhere else, away from the banality or unbearable nature of daily life, especially in a time that doesn’t allow for the free expression of thought or true purpose. Naturally, as with any artistic innovation, there will be pushback from those who see it as a lesser form or one unworthy of being indulged and emphasized.

Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is a widow in 1959 England whose dream is to open a bookshop, something she finds to be considerably more difficult than expected. Countless hurdles are placed in her way, with the most momentous opposition coming from high-society queen Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), who wants to use the space to open a cultural arts center and will use every weapon in her arsenal to sway those few who support Florence against her cause. As she seeks to enlighten the residents of the town with her literary knowledge, she finds sympathy only from a young girl named Christine (Honor Kneafsey) and a lonely widower (Bill Nighy) who is taken with the ideas she expresses and the goals she seeks to achieve.

People advocating for change and progress well ahead of their time is nothing new, and such stories often make for great movies. What makes Florence stand out isn’t necessarily what she’s trying to do but rather the unshakeable persistence with which she does it. Everyone is against her, and it’s not as if her aims are all that revolutionary or objectionable. She’s just a woman who isn’t supposed to be pushing so much in her time and is expected to do what she’s told, a path she has no intention of following.

Mortimer is a fantastic actress whose spirit is one of her best qualities, and that’s on full display here in a relatively isolated lead role that allows her to push forward against every new obstacle. It doesn’t allow her much opportunity to use her comedic chops, unfortunately, and as a result this is far from her most engaging performance. The same is true of Nighy, who does play his part to the best of his ability. The film is decent but ultimately unmemorable, telling a perfectly standard tale in a competent manner.


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