the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society
DIRECTOR: mike newell (four weddings and a funeral, mona lisa smile)
STARRING: lily james, matthew goode, michiel huisman, and Jessica brown findlay
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A young writer decides to visit a literary society formed on the British island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and discovers a compelling story of friendship, community, and the heartbreaking loss inflicted by war.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - an absolute mouthful but unlike its savoury namesake the film brings a delightfully sweet taste to the cinematic senses.
The story finds writer Juliet (Lily James) visiting the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society following WWII after receiving an intriguing letter from one of its members. There she learns of the people of Guernseys struggle for survival under the oppressive rule of the Nazi occupying force and is smitten with the sense of love and community that has been forged amongst the society's members.
But it is a film that doesn't paint the British as 'goodies' and the Nazi's as the 'baddies' - it's more mature and nuanced than that. To the horror of the Society one of its members falls in love with one of the Nazi soldiers but soon overcome their prejudice when they discover that he is a decent man unlike the other Nazi thugs.
The story is heartbreaking as well (without giving away spoilers) as we see the utter devastation that war can bring on the general population and that its effects can last long after the final bullet is fired. Although the narrative is engaging, it felt a bit lengthy possibly due to some of the exposition being longer than it should have been. The conclusion feels a little rushed but overall The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a charming tale.
Boasting a mainly British cast, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is filled with wonderful performances led superbly by Lily Collins who is, as always, incredible endearing in managing to portray not only doe eyed wonder but gritty determination as she seeks to discover the truth of what happened on the island of Guernsey. But Penelope Wilton manages to be the stand out in this cast as the mother stricken by overwhelming grief, attempting to carry on with life.
The gorgeous English locations, the intricate set dressing and production design, and the period costumes all lend a hand in transporting you out of your cinema seat and into 1946 on the remote island of Guernsey.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - an absolute mouthful of a title but unlike its savoury namesake, the film brings a delightfully sweet taste to the cinematic senses.