The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Glenn Powell
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A great story and a charming film, but ultimately falls into the trap of predictability…
Juliet (Lily James), a free-spirited writer from London, receives a letter from a member of a literary club from the formerly Nazi- occupied British island of Guernsey. She decides to visit and meets the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, including Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), a farmer on the island who wrote her the letter. As she spends time on the scenic island, Juliet learns secrets about the society and the war (particularly the German occupation), which changes her life in ways that she could never have ever imagined.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Mary Ann Shaffer, and like Juliet, Shaffer adored Guernsey and became invested in its German occupation history when she visited the island in 1978. However, Shaffer passed before she could finish the book, and it was completed by her niece Annie Burrows.
Shooting on the island, seasoned director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) luxuriates in wondrous shots of Guernsey, its beaches, the mountains and the town itself.
The chemistry between the cast members who portray the society members shines. You get the feeling of homeliness, love and inclusion, and you even entertain the thought of trying the disgusting looking potato peel pie which only contains potatoes and potato peelings, no butter, eggs or flour.
The standout performance is from British TV royalty, Penelope Wilton, who shines as Amelia, showcasing the pain and torment that the war has caused her.
Newell’s use of flashbacks, with Dawsey providing the narration, is a key part in telling the story but they cleverly immerse you into the lives of the society and what affect the German occupation had on them.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is also a romance, which doesn’t take away from the compelling story about the society, which is compelling and real, you just want to keep on finding out more. Not so much the romance, though, which follows the familiar romance tropes, making it extremely predictable.
A great story and a charming film, but ultimately falls into the trap of predictability, which is an unfortunate take-away.