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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

I had this DVD of this 2018 Mike Powell film lying around in my to-be-watched pile for some time.

I was persuaded to watch it as its star Lily James features in the Sky Mobile ad and I like her smile, vivacity and vitality.

The film is set in occupied Guernsey. There a book club was formed and the only sustenance – potatoes – provided for it potato peel pie, hence the rather odd title.

Its a good film but not a great one.

My reservations are some ideas and scenes are inspired (cinema-speak for filched) by more well-known ones.

The notion of un amour a loin was better covered in 86 Charing Cross Road; the scene at an air strip, with a plane about to take off and conflicted lovers, copies the final scene in Casablanca; and the country romance between a bearded farmer and a woman that fancies him closely resembles that between Julie Christie and Alan Bates in The Go Between. The gift of a ring from a rich but unwelcome fiance appears in Crocodile Dundee.

One of the members of the book club is pig farmer Dawsey (Michael Neasman) who writes to novelist Julie Ashton (Lily James) requesting a copy of Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare.

Julie decides to visit the island. She is not warmly welcomed and soon understands why: there is a dark secret with held from her. No plot spoiler.

Julie is conflicted between her rich American fiancé Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell) and her increasing attraction to Dawsey.

The casting includes Tom Courtenay as the island postman and Penelope Wilton as the harbinger of the secret.

Both are more convincing than Lilly in the title role who has a lovely face but limited acting ability.

Nonetheless it’s a war film with a difference. There is a strong sense of occupation and resistance through reading.

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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts