‘A rare sequel that doesn’t disappoint’ – Book Club The Next Chapter review

With Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 still pulling in the under-30s in its second week, here’s a film aimed at a different but equally lucrative demographic.

Five years ago, the first Book Club film made eight times its budget by serving the over-60s, an audience who can fill cinemas during Marvel’s fallow period – daytime during the working week.

Its premise saw four well-heeled American ladies (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen) fire up their libidos after tackling Fifty Shades Of Grey in their reading group. Now, they’ve moved on to Paulo Coelho’s schmaltzy self-help fable The Alchemist.

Its advice to embrace change inspires the lifelong friends to embark on an Italian adventure to mark the ­engagement of Fonda’s ­free-spirit Vivian to dishy boyfriend Arthur (Don Johnson).

Low-octane hijinks ensue. There’s a smattering of double entendres but this is mostly about gorgeous locations (the women visit Rome, Venice and Florence), life-affirming drama, and the sparkling chemistry between its talented leads.

Bergen gets most of the laughs as retired judge Sharon but screen time is fairly split between all four stars.

Steenbergen gets to show off her accordion playing, flirt with an Italian chef and crack lame jokes about his meatballs.

Keaton rocks nifty tailored suits as neurotic Diane and enjoys lengthy phone calls with her relentlessly charming boyfriend (Andy Garcia).

Fonda snags most of the drama as Vivian contemplates making her first romantic commitment in her 80s.

The four veteran stars deserved sharper dialogue and a better plot. But this is a rare sequel that doesn’t disappoint.

Chapter two is just as charmingly ramshackle as the first.

  • Book Club: The Next Chapter, Cert 12A, In cinemas now

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