Image: Tom Courtenay, Michiel Huisman, Penelope Wilton, Katherine Parkinson, Lily James, and Kit Connor © Photograph by Kerry Brown [Source: IMDB]
In the aftermath of the Second World War, a writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey and the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The group of misfit islanders who found a love for books during their occupation by the Germans. Deciding to write a book about the group’s experiences during the war, she is met with hostility and mystery uncovering a more dramatic tale of events than she had anticipated.
Director: Mike Newell. Starring: Lily James, Matthew Goode, Michiel Huisman, Katherine Parkinson, Tom Courtenay, Penelope Wilton [12A]
As its title might imply, this film does not care for drawing in larger pools of audiences. The name alone could deter most people my age, it suggesting an archaic whimsicality that is nothing like the commercialised unusual style of Wes Anderson and instead offering something closer to Downton Abby – but then again, that is rather popular. Guernsey and Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a cushioned cosy romance that is as commonplace as its characters, feeling old worldly and bygone.
In its innocuous storytelling, the film finds both its pleasures and its downfalls. It’s easy to get caught up in the quaint landscape of Guernsey and the romantic atmosphere it adds to the film, even the more gooey aspects of the age-old marrying the wrong man and spurning the right man love affair. But still, in its overplaying of a wholesome attitude, the film finds itself as tasteless as the alluded Potato Peel Pie. The main plotline of the film being by far the most unremarkable aspect as we see no surprises or edges to its lukewarm romance drama between the writer, the American fiance who might as well carry around a sign that says “she’s not gonna end up with me”, and the most dashingly handsome and well-spoken pig farmer from the middle of nowhere, you will ever come across. Being the main focus of the film with the far more interesting Nazi occupation/love affair between occupied and officer taking a back seat leaves the film entirely bland and lacking absorbing substance.
The cast does give it their all and is fittingly excellent as per their reputations, morphing into staple characters that they have no trouble performing and we have no trouble watching. It seems Newell has forgotten all the excitement, humour and tasteful engaging romantic drama from Four Weddings and a Funeral. Instead, the film carries the same mood as a Saturday afternoon, carefree, relaxed, a little fun and some excitement but overall you’re just waiting for something more compelling. It certainly has its pleasures and can certainly be a gentle film to sit back and wash over you but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society should probably ditch its bland flavourings and get something with more grit.