The Bookshop film review: a love letter to literature


Emily Mortimer in The Bookshop.
Emily Mortimer in The Bookshop.

BOOKLOVERS rejoice, as this warm film celebrates all things literature and the positive impact it can have on people.

In the late 1950s, timid widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) with a love for books decides to open a bookshop in the sleepy seaside town Hardborough, England.

Her chosen location for the shop is a damp old building that has been empty for years and desperate for a makeover.

She enlists help in the afternoons from feisty teenager Christine (Honor Kneafsey), befriends recluse bookworm Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) and stocks the latest controversial book in literary circles Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov.

Florence, however, meets resistance from rich and powerful socialite Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), who has other plans for the space – an art gallery – and who schemes to have her rival evicted.

The Bookshop captures a nostalgia about books and bookshops; even though hardcovers still exist, this love letter to the form in a time of Kindles acts like a momentary trip down memory lane.

When Florence paces the shelves, gently running her fingers over the book spines, we are transported immediately back to those hidden, musty shops where we have found the odd forgotten gem that we have curled up on the couch with.

While being a love letter to literature, there is a plot and characters that are fleshed out to keep the audience intrigued.

Though drama and conflict boils in this slowly paced film, this is possibly the most polite way it could be handled; under the direction of Spaniard Isabel Coixet, it avoids melodramatic theatrics.

There is barely a blip, dramatically speaking, in this film’s already very relaxed heartbeat.

THE ESSENTIALS

The Bookshop (M)

Three and a half stars

Directed by: Isabel Coixet

Starring: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now