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The Bookshop

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

After watching The Bookshop's trailer, it would be reasonable to expect a traditional romantic movie, almost a period romantic comedy. And at some point during the film, I really thought (and feared) that this would be the case. The Bookshop, however, proved to be much more than that… It is a movie about power and betrayal, but mostly about friendship and books. It is a heartfelt modern tale of a woman’s courage and independence, even though it takes place in postwar England.

In 1959, Florence Green, a quiet war widow, decides to open a bookshop in the small coastal town of Hardborough. Her determination, however, is tested by an insidious and ruthless opposition led by the wealthy and influent Violet Gamart.

In The Bookshop, based on the 1978 semi-autobiographical novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, the Spanish director Isabel Coixet (Elegy, Learning to Drive) creates an understated world that grips the viewer in a very subtle way. For those two hours, I felt myself happily inhabiting that world. And as the narrator at some point says about Florence and the books she loved, the story kept “playing like vivid dreams” in my head once the film was over.

I don’t want to give away too many details about the story that, although not a big secret, brings sometimes small but always delicious misdirections which will be better appreciated if the viewer goes to the movie without too much information. I should say, nevertheless, that The Bookshop is as far from a blockbuster as it can be, and has been released in few US movie theaters. But if it looks like your kind of film, maybe you should check the schedules for the theaters near you.

Starring Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), and Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects), The Bookshop is a 2017 film. Same year, by the way, that Mortimer and Clarkson acted together in another movie that I liked very much and reviewed here: The Party.

- Lalu Farias


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