‘Book Club: The Next Chapter‘ is a comedy film that follows four elderly friends — Diane, Vivian, Sharon, and Carol — who are all part of the same book club, take a trip to Italy together. The trip is to celebrate Vivian’s engagement with her boyfriend, Arthur. But once they land in the Mediterranean country with its beautiful architecture and artwork, hijinks ensue.
Directed by Bill Holderman, the film is a direct sequel to the 2018 ‘Book Club.’ Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen reprise their roles from the first film. Joining them are Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, and Giancarlo Giannini. With such a fun and wholesome premise, some of our readers might be wondering about the origins of such a story. If you are one of them, then here’s everything you need to know!
Is Book Club: The Next Chapter a True Story?
No, ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’ is not a true story. The film has been produced from an original screenplay co-written by Bill Holderman and Erin Simms, the idea for which Erin had back in 2018. In an interview with ‘The AU Review,’ director Bill Holderman revealed, “The idea of a sequel and of the trip to Italy actually happened very organically. I’ll give you a little insight. Erin was on a plane with Mary (Steenburgen), Candice (Bergen), and Jane (Fonda), and they were going to CinemaCon in 2018 before the first movie even came out.”
The director added, “On the flight, and it’s not a long flight from LA To Las Vegas, they were talking about the first movie and how much fun they had making it. I think it was Candice who said, ‘Well, we have to make a sequel. And if we do we should go to Italy.'” While the story is about the value of friendship, much like its prequel, the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine accentuates this fact and dictates the narrative at the beginning of the film.
Through the numerous Zoom calls, the film shows the importance of staying connected, especially in the most difficult of times. But although COVID-19 is a part of ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter,’ it wasn’t always so. The pandemic and its effects were only added after the quarantine had been implemented worldwide. “once the pandemic happened, it was such a significant moment for all of us. It was so impactful in our lives (that) we felt like it would be disingenuous not to include that in some way and let that inform the way it informed all of us about life and challenged relationships,” Bill Holderman explained.
Expanding on the COVID-19 aspect, as well as her own character, in an interview with Moviefone, Mary Steenburgen said, “Carol, my character is a chef that’s had quite a bit of success. At the very beginning of the film, her restaurant, which has been her lifelong dream, has had to close because of COVID. So I think I’m a little lost and I come across this journal that I’d written in when I was a young woman. I realized that the four of us had planned this trip to Italy and we never made it. So I just think it’s time.”
Of course, the “book club” isn’t really a book club without a book to read and discuss. ’50 Shades of Grey’ took on this mantle in ‘Book Club,’ and replacing it in the sequel is ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. Much of the thematic element in the film, like that of a single moment inspiring you to take action (in the film’s case, going on a dream vacation to Italy to celebrate), is an integral part of the book.
While Holderman and Simms wrote the initial script around the themes of ‘The Alchemist’ only, they explored other titles as well. “The theme and the message is always a driving force for us and so we needed that. No other book was gonna work. That’s what we realized and we went back to The Alchemist,'” said Erin Simms in an interview with Danielle Solzman.
‘Book Club: The Next Chapter,’ though not a true story, rings true with everybody who values their friends and the place they occupy in their lives. A feel-good comedy about the lifelong bond that endures between people, the film has many laugh-out-loud moments in the heartwarming storyline to keep everyone entertained.