The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society
"Even the surprises are too well signposted to surprise" | Photo: Studiocanal

The title traps you into thinking this must be another from the Marigold Hotel/Downton Abbey cocktail party, nostalgia-au-posh and ever so gently amusing. Also, Lily's here. All's well.

Actually, it is something altogether different although so predictable you don't want to be proved right. After the war, London literary circles are inhabited by ladies who scribble and publishers who haven't changed since prep school. The atmosphere is cozy and safe and desperately well connected.

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Juliet Ashton (Lily James) has written a biog of the Bronte sister no one knows, which sold 28 copies, and another book that did better. She stays in a boarding house in the smart part of town and is being pestered (courted) by a smooth talking New Yorker (Glen Powell) who makes your skin crawl.

Juliet is annoying for different reasons. She is so nice she squeaks and her naive approach to life feels like being poisoned by soft brown sugar.

She goes to Guernsey, which was occupied by the Germans not so long ago, to find out about the society and why it's called that and who belongs to it in the hope of writing something later. What she finds is a tight community protecting a secret that involves illicit love, a child, a mystery, a disappearance.

Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton are the oldies. Familiar and friendly, you think - you might be wrong. Michiel Huisman, the Dutchman from Game Of Thrones, is a pig farmer with a sophisticated taste in reading. He's too good looking to be taken seriously as a wellies and muck man with a designer stubble that doesn't grow or go throughout the movie. The most interesting of the society members is Jessica Brown Findlay, possibly because she's not there very much.

At the core of the film is an emotional drama involving tourist board locations and character cliches. Even the surprises are too well signposted to surprise and you are left limp when you want to be moved by impossible passion.

The echo of a scream reverberates in what remains of your mind. A voice can be heard.

"What are you saying?" you ask.

"Get rid of the American," the voice says.

"Is that all?"

Reviewed on: 20 Apr 2018
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The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society packshot
A naive young lady who happens to be a writer travels to Guernsey after the war to learn more about this strangely named society.
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Director: Mike Newell

Writer: Kevin Hood, Thomas Bezucha, Don Roos, based on the novel by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

Starring: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Jessica Brown Findlay, Glen Powell, Katherine Parkinson, Kit Connor, Marek Oravec

Year: 2018

Runtime: 124 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US, UK


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