Written by: Fiona Underhill, CC2K Staff Writer
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came to UK cinemas in April of 2018, but US audiences had to wait until August for it to land on Netflix in order to bask in the warm glow of this historical romance. If you enjoyed 2016’s Their Finest, you will lap this up.
Based on a best-selling epistolary novel from 2008, the story is set in 1946 and follows an author; Juliet Ashton (Lily James) who starts a correspondence with Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman) from the Channel Island of Guernsey. Juliet writes a popular series of books under the pen-name Izzy Bickerstaff and her publisher Sidney Stark (Matthew Goode) trys to pressure her into doing publicity tours and write more books in the series. She is also voraciously pursued and wooed by a dashing and rich American, Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell), however she abandons both Sidney and Mark on a whim to visit Dawsey and his society on Guernsey since she is fascinated by the name and suspects there is an interesting story behind it.
On Guernsey, Juliet encounters the eclectic and eccentric members of the society; Eben Ramsay (Tom Courtenay), Isola Priddy (Katherine Parkinson) and Amelia Maugery (Penelope Wilton), as well as the dashing Dawsey. She enjoys their company, shares her love of literature with them and is keen to know more about their background as a secret society during the war in Nazi-occupied Guernsey, to the extent that she wants to write a book about it. However, Amelia is cagey about the details and is wary of bringing unwanted attention to the society. Juliet gradually uncovers the tragic tale behind Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), the young woman who founded the society.
The casting of this film is one of its main strengths. Lily James is as delightful and charming as ever and Michiel Huisman makes an appropriately swoon-worthy love interest. Huisman is best known for Game of Thrones and The Age of Adaline, and is also excellent in the lesser-known Treme and Black Book. Matthew Goode is brilliant in his small role as Juliet’s gay best friend, and Glen Powell is currently one of the internet’s favorite boyfriends, especially since Set It Up. The cast is rounded out by a quality British ensemble, with Shaun of the Dead’s Penelope Wilton being particularly heart-breaking. Plenty of humor is also provided, with The IT Crowd’s Parkinson being especially funny.
The costumes and scenery are also a huge part of the appeal. Juliet wears some stunning boldly-colored dresses while out with Mark in London. Even more attractive is the floppy hair, beard, tweed and knitwear combination on Dawsey. The island of Guernsey is stunning, with its rugged, sweeping beaches and attractive fishing ports. It is interesting to discover a little-known part of history – that there was actually a part of the UK occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. The mystery surrounding Elizabeth is also compelling, and watching Juliet play detective using the local archives keeps the story moving along. The love-triangle aspect keeps the viewer interested, especially when everyone is so pleasant to look at.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is exactly the kind of film you could safely put on if you were ever in a situation when both your Mom and Grandmother needed entertaining, and there is something to be said for that. Yes, it’s warm, gentle and soothing, like a hot bath (or a hot pie, for that matter). It’s a romantic period piece and there should be more of those – put one on Netflix every week, there is an appetite for them. This is surely the best film starring Lily James and three hot guys of 2018.
Author: Fiona Underhill, CC2K Staff Writer
Brit living in Southern California.
Former teacher of Media and Film Studies.
Current film writer for jumpcutonline.com, moviejawn.com and others.