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March 18, 2019

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) --- "Based On The Best-Selling Novel."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
       Directed by Mike Newell (Mona Lisa Smile, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and based on the bestselling novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) is a Netflix film that is genuine, emotional, and full of character development. The film takes place in England of 1946 where we meet Juliet Ashton (Lily James) a successful writer who enjoys spending time with her wealthy American suitor among the glitz and glamour of England’s high society, despite still being haunted by the horrors of World War II. While pondering ideas for her next book, Juliet receives a curious letter from a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and soon enough finds herself embarking on a trip to investigate the curiously named book club. There she hears the inspiring stories of comfort, love, horror and pure resilience from Guernsey's eccentric inhabitants during the German occupation of the Channel Islands. As she becomes enchanted with Guernsey’s rural tranquility and Idyllic lifestyle, one must wonder if she will ever go home? Or perhaps she’s finally found the home she’s been looking for?

     Firstly, not many people are aware that during World War II German troops occupied the British Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, where they were met with virtually no military resistance. During the occupation, many islanders were sent to forced labor and concentration camps in Germany, and all farm produce and livestock were confiscated for military use.
     And secondly, the writers – Don Roos (This is Us, Marley & Me), Kelvin Hood (Becoming Jane, A Royal Night Out), and Thomas Bezucha (Family Stone, Monte Carlo) – did an incredible job with this story. While the story is simple it understates the multiple sub-stories and themes that paint a vivid and almost dark picture of a war-time Guernsey. There are dark themes of Nazi collaboration and trauma people faced with being separated from their families but there are also uplifting themes about an old-fashioned love and hope story and how literature can bring people together, even during dark times. As the Society members recounting their stories and what ties them all together, Juliet quickly falls in love with Guernsey and her new friends. The resilience of their friendship and the raw bravery they accomplished inspires her, while she, in turn, provides a much-needed new element of love and support to them. The story also focuses on finding hope for the characters, even when it feels like there is none left, and is the start of a new beginning for everyone.
     The cinematography resembles the film’s themes quite beautifully. London is a dreary grey and remains resilient despite the horrors that still echo amongst its people, while Guernsey is presented with beautiful rolling hills and powerful waves against the shoreline that speak of a different kind of strength. The story itself is told through a soft-focus lens but it also incorporates Juliet’s perspective to accentuate the difference between wartime London and wartime Guernsey. This, in turn, allows for the audience is introduced to an engaging detective story about hope, survival, friendship, romance, and the love of literature.
    The cast of the film is incredible as they help bring the story to life with character depth and raw emotional prowess. Lily James (Darkest Hour, Mamma Mia 2) was fabulous as Juliet, Michael Huisman (Game of Thrones, Age of Adeline) is perfect as Dawsey, Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abby) is ideal as Elizabeth, and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abby)  & Tom Courtenay (Nicholas Nickleby, 45 Years)  are great, and Matthew Goode (Leap Year, Downton Abby) is always  wonderful.

    Overall, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) may be a Netflix film but it is genuinely emotional and engaging detective story about hope, survival, friendship, romance, and the love of literature. The story explores the dark side of the German occupation on Guernsey, especially the painful repercussions the people who worked for the Germans faced after the war. What started as an investigative trip for a possible new book idea for Juliet, turned into a journey about finding hope and love even when it didn’t feel like there was any left to find. The cast provided excellent performances as each character was given the chance to tell his or her story, delivering a relatable and realistic performance.

"Do you suppose it's possible for us to already belong to someone before we've met them?"
- Juliet Ashton

Final Vote --- 9.5 of 10 stars

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