Already in the cinematic penalty box after wasting Ben Kingsley’s and Patricia Clarkson’s talents in 2014’s Learning to Drive, Isabel Coixet builds on her reputation as one of the most boring directors working today with this sluggish adaptation of the late Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop.
Set on the East Anglian coast in 1959, the faux charming tale centers on widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer, HBO’s The Newsroom) and her efforts to open a titular establishment in a town whose citizens — including Clarkson’s wealthy unofficial community leader — don’t want such a place.
Struggling to find a point or develop much narrative tension in her pedestrian script, Coixet doubles down on her lack of artistic vision and churns out some of the flattest and most poorly framed cinematography in recent memory.
As he is wont to do, Bill Nighy slashes through the drudgery with his distinct, comic line delivery and scissor-like hand gestures. The actor’s portrayal of a well-off bibliophile recluse — particularly his discovery of Ray Bradbury — is the film’s lone bright spot, though not nearly enough to warrant an overall recommendation.
Grade: C-minus. Rated PG. Starts Sept. 7 at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Greenwich Entertainment)