MOVIE REVIEW: Post-war drama a tasty dish indeed
IF YOU ever needed any more proof that British cinema is enjoying a great revival, then look no further than this little beauty with a mouthful of a title.
The longest movie title in living memory, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (TGL&PPS) is named for good reason, and you'll find out why in the first 10 minutes.
British cinema has delivered a raft of great movies over the past couple of years, with gems such as Hampstead, Dunkirk, Baby Driver, Darkest Hour and the delightful Finding Your Feet pleasing Australian audiences.
Now comes another charmer, starring Lily James, one of the most in demand actresses around, fresh from her roles in Downton Abbey, Cinderella and soon as the star of the Mamma Mia! sequel.
Based on the best-selling book by Mary Ann Shaffer released in 2008, this has been a long time coming to the big screen.
The movie opens late at night on Guernsey, one of the small chain of Channel Islands suspended in the sea between France and England. It is 1941 and the island, a UK territory, is under Nazi occupation. The Germans are taking livestock to feed their army, and a curfew is in place.
One night four residents are winding their way merrily home down a dark country path after a few drinks. After months of hunger and isolation and fear, they have spent a precious night of laughter and conversation together at the home of Amelia (Downton Abbey's Penelope Wilton). When questioned by the Nazis, the friends say they are merely returning home from a meeting of their book club.
Fast forward to 1946, where author and writer Juliet (James) is enjoying life in post-war London. Juliet is in love with the dashing Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell) and is poised to accept his proposal of marriage and move to a new life in the US.
She receives a letter from Dawsey, a member of TGL&PPS who found her name and address in a book she once owned. Over time they exchange letters, and Juliet decides to visit the island and write an article about the group for The Times.
What follows is a tale of friendship, tragedy and sacrifice, as Juliet gets to hear the stories of the locals, revealing a secret that she throws her journalistic skills into solving.
Sitting in the middle of the English Channel, today Guernsey has a population of around 63,000 and the story of the Nazi occupation is fascinating as it ties in with the fictional narrative.
James is perfect in this role, and is surrounded by experienced, recognisable actors who give this movie a charm and warmth that only the Brits can do.
Under the eye of director Mike Newell (best known for Four Weddings & A Funeral) you get to know the characters as Juliet faces her own 'fish out of water' scenario, working to win over the island residents who have been through so much in recent years.
Yes it is a common theme, but throw in a few surprises in a setting that many of us have hardly heard of and you have a movie that feels quite unique.
The cast is excellent, the story keeps you glued to the very end, and by the time you walk into the foyer you'll feel inspired and maybe just a little teary eyed.
James is a fast-rising star, and you'll see why by the time the credits roll. She is breathtaking.
If you enjoy the odd bit of history and a cast of quirky characters full of warmth and humour, then this is very pleasant two hours in the cinema. You'll leave with a smile on your dial.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society opens in cinemas on Thursday.
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society
Stars: Lily James, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Michiel Fuisman.
Director: Mike Newell
Verdict: 3.5 stars