Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s eponymous, Booker Prize–nominated novel from 1978, The Bookshop acts as a love letter to literature and the importance of dreams. Director and screenwriter Isabel Coixet helms an adaptation that is brimming with colour, wit and charm.
Florence Green—played with effortless grace by Emily Mortimer (The Party, The Sense of an Ending)—is a young widow who shocks the residents of her rural English town by turning an old, weathered house into a bookshop. She faces vehement opposition from the town, especially from queen busybody Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson, The Party; One Day) but finds an unlikely supporter in Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy, Their Finest; Pride), a bookish local recluse who takes up her cause. When the battle lines are drawn, the fight moves beyond the shop to touch on the sociopolitical values and class barriers facing the residents of the town in 1950s England.
As independent bookstores face competition from corporate giants and the arts continue to prove themselves a force of change, The Bookshop is as timely today as ever. You will not want to miss this wistful ode to the power of a good book.
“[The Bookshop’s] subversive undercurrent, embodied in fine performances by Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy, is what makes it really interesting.” (Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter)
“The Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet brings an interesting, unsentimental detachment to this odd tragicomedy of provincial life. Perhaps only a non-British filmmaker could have brought out the strangeness of this story; it concludes by suggesting that everything has been about the glory involved in fighting for books and literary culture (…). But this isn’t quite what the story has been about. It’s more to do with postwar Britain’s cold war of generation and class.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)