Mike Newall (director)
Studio Canal (studio)
19 April 2018 (released)
24 April 2018
If reading is your escapism of choice, then this film, which celebrates the power of the written word, is not one you’ll want to miss.
Set against a backdrop of London newly out of war, we meet our lovely lead, author Juliet Ashton (Lily James), who’s living life to the full as her city gets rebuilt around her. She’s dating suave New Yorker Mark (Glen Powell), and if she’s not sitting down at her typewriter, you can find glamorous Juliet sipping champagne and dancing the night away.
As well as being a published writer, albeit under a pseudonym, Juliet is an avid reader, and also, we soon learn, a curious soul.
After receiving a letter asking if she can send a book to a reading group in Guernsey, Juliet’s interest is piqued when she finds out about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’s beginnings.
Through letters with society member Dawsey (Michiel Huisman), Juliet learns how bad the people of Guernsey had it during the war. Dawsey and his gang Amelia (Penelope Wilton), Isola (Katherine Parkinson) and Eben (Tom Courtenay) were brought together by plucky Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay), who recognised the need for the isolated group of neighbours to enjoy company during the occupation. Thus, one drunken and dangerous night, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was born.
Captivated by dashing Dawsey’s tale, Juliet is overcome with an urge to meet the Guernsey group, so after seeking permission from her agent and oldest friend Sidney (Matthew Goode) for some time off from book promo duties, Juliet sets sail across the Channel to surprise her pen friend with a visit.
While Juliet goes with the intention of writing about the society and their story for a newspaper article, she has no idea the trip will change her life forever.
The title of this movie may be a mouthful, but the film itself is easy to swallow. It’s brimming with charm, wit and heart, all brought together lovingly by director Mike Newell and a brilliant, well cast, line-up of actors.
Newell has stated he was motivated to make the film, based on Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer’s bestselling novel, to tell the widely unknown story of what the residents of Guernsey were subjected to during WWII, and he does this softly here, largely choosing to show off a very special friendship born out of survival rather than Nazi atrocities.
While Newell tries to ramp up the drama with the mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s whereabouts, the real joy in this gentle tear-jerker is seeing the growing relationship between Juliet and her new friends, sweeping shots of the Guernsey landscape (which was actually filmed in picturesque Cornwall and Devon) and the nostalgia that radiates through.
If wartime weepies are your thing, this movie is a winner. You’ll be leaving the cinema with a warm feeling – and possibly one or two tear soaked tissues!