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Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The


Stars: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Glen Powell, Bronagh Gallagher

Director: Mike Newell

This is a nice period piece, although you might wish it had a bit more bite. And the 'happy' ending is clearly visible from reel two.

Nonetheless, the movie, picturesquely shot (although, strangely, not in Guernsey itself), has much to recommend it.

It's 1946 and author Juliet (the ever-appealing James) has had more success writing as 'Izzy Bickerstaff' than publishing a treatise on Anne Bronte under her own name. Freshly engaged to a rich American (Powell) and under pressure from her publisher (Goode) to produce more work, Juliet engages in correspondence with Dawsey, (Huisman), a farmer from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

She becomes fascinated with the story of the islanders who, in wartime, founded the eponymous society as a refuge from the occupying Germans.

Journeying to Guernsey, she meets the piemaker, postman Eben (Courtenay), her tight-lipped, Bible-bashing landlady (Gallagher), the sad Mrs Maugery (Wilton) and others, initially giving them readings from her Bronte book, but later becoming more interested in their recent history, notably the fate of the mysterious Elizabeth (Brown Findlay) who was arrested by the Germans in 1944 and whose daughter is now cared for by Dawsey.

It's the kind of thing the Brits do better than almost anyone else, although rather let down here by a too-docile leading man, who's visually a good fit for Lady Chatterley's gardener, but whose acting range is extremely limited, often leading to him sullenly hanging around. And Powell isn't much better.

Otherwise, performances are uniformly good from the likes of Wilton, Courtenay and indeed the rest of the cast. Period settings, as always in these things, are impeccable.

David Quinlan

UK 2018. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by Panalux.
122 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 Apr 2018