Movie Review – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Big in title, big in heart

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Elle Cahill

The title might be a bit of a comical mouthful, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (GLPPS) is actually quite a sombre film that looks at the impact of World War II on smaller communities in the UK. Through the eyes of young author Juliet Ashton (Lily James), we are shown a war-torn London under repair, and the tragic, lasting effect of war.

After corresponding with member of the GLPPS Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), Juliet heads to Guernsey Island to meet the book club’s members and find inspiration for her next novel. What she finds, however, is a group struggling to recover from German occupation. She must decide whether her story is worth pursuing, or if she should leave the members to their mourning.

Based on the novel of the same name, Mike Newell’s latest film is supported by an extremely talented and well-known cast, including Matthew Goode as Juliet’s publisher and confidante, and the ever-brilliant Tom Courtenay as the eldest member of the GLPPS. The three standouts, however, are all key members of the book club, including Huisman (Game of Thrones), Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) as the eccentric Isola and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey) as the grief-stricken Amelia. All three bring a unique quality to their idiosyncratic characters and express how each character has been changed in irreparable ways by the deep trauma they have endured.

What lets down this strong ensemble is its lead in Lily James (Cinderella, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). James’ Juliet is reminiscent of Kristen Stewart’s turn as Bella in Twilight. Her character is supposedly a distinguished author who has suffered significant tragedy at a young age, which completely jars with James’ girlish, slightly immature delivery. It only becomes even more noticeable in contrast with Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), who’s similarly aged character is miles ahead of Juliet in terms of her maturity and ability to show compassion to others.

Overall, however, GLPPS is a sensitive character study and a well-devised adaptation. While the ending leaves a little to be desired, the core of the film is worth investing your time and money into.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is available in Australian cinemas from Thursday 19 April 

Image courtesy of Studiocanal

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