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It’s fair to say that this sluggish adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel is not a great advertisement for the joys of reading. Key to the problems: the fact that the screenplay is just not particularly well written.
Bill Nighy plays the kind of character that only ever exists in mediocre fiction. He is Edmund Brundish, a recluse who is passionate about literature but loathes people, to the extent that he destroys the author photos on the back of novels. One wonders how he gets around the fact that books tend to be peopled with, well, people. Nighy often seems as though he is appearing in films under sufferance. But here, he’s so pained, it looks like the performance is being surgically extracted without anaesthetic. Edmund spots a kindred spirit in widow and aspiring bookshop owner Florence Green (Emily Mortimer). Meanwhile, society power-broker Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) has other plans for the bookshop’s premises.
The performances are solid: Clarkson has perfected a laugh that is as cold as the clinking ice in a cocktail glass. And Mortimer is resolutely charming in a role that is so inoffensively nice, it’s like the human equivalent of a Farrow and Ball paint colour. But for all the real-estate machinations and nefarious scheming, there are too many inert scenes that drain the energy from this already plodding story.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Bookshop review – not a page-turner | Drama films