I kicked off my evening with some White Russians in the cocktail bar upstairs, the staff were very welcoming and added to the class of a theatre which already overwhelms you with its sophisticated decor and 1920’s refurbishments. The food menu is nicely priced and can be delivered to your seat, I opted for the double cheese burger which left me in good form and change from a tenner.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society was the perfect movie to see in the Stella as the atmosphere of the theatre added to the wartime period story and vice versa.
The film has so many great characters, the quirky singleton Isola Pribby is played by Katherine Parkinson who pulls off a gin drinking Phoebe (friends) type character, although at times I feel like she will mature into Ms Doyle from Fr Ted.
Penelope Wilton is perfectly cast as Amelia Maugery, the matron of the society, who shows a compelling range of emotion from her cold first appearance to war torn tears later on.
The feisty Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay) is the moral compass of the story, sacrificing her own personal comforts and putting herself at risk in the name of liberty, equality, and potatoe peel pie. Not all heroes wear capes.
The story of course centres around the writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James), who starts out as a bit of a love struck book worm but grows in strength and character as the film goes on, she’s also rather attractive in a Wallace & Gromit kind of way.
In a nutshell it’s the feminist movie Wonderwoman failed to be, the central characters are all female with the love interests made up by supporting males and the main themes being about female struggle and empowerment.
The love story is simple enough so I’m not going to give anything away, but the plot is quite interesting and is a gentle reveal which harbours enough suspense to keep the movie flowing. The film is also littered with war time shots and some very gripping scenes of life in a nazi occupied territory.
There are some great cinematic moments such as Juliet’s night at the ball, her arrival on the island, Dawsey Adams’ (Michiel Huisman) tumultuous entrance to the book club, and the air force carrier take off on the sandy beach towards the end. To be honest the film is full of little moments which you soak up like a sponge and only realise how individually brilliant and significant they are afterwards.
There are also some incredibly cheesy and theatrical moments such as the engagement but I think these are common from the art of exaggerated storytelling and they help create a sense of identity within the film, after all this is an adaptation from a bestselling novel where the main character pursues the identity of a man from a book club based on a shared love for the works of Charles Lamb.
Although the engagement story is a bit cliché it does add to Juliet’s character development and is central to her successfully finding her true identity and ability to become the writer she wants to be.
All in all it’s a nicely shot movie with great characters and a family friendly story line that’s worth a watch.