- (A) Period drama – check!
(B) Looks like it’s a romantic work from the trailer – check!
(C) Ridiculous title – check!
Plus, I had already been burned by the overhyped and terrible Their Finest.
At least my fears with the title were put to one side by an amusing opening scene, set in 1941, which defines how it comes about, and then it’s quickly onto 1946, after World War II has ended.
Society member Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman) writes to author Juliet Ashton (Lily James) requesting a book – Charles Lamb’s Tales From Shakespeare, since she’s in London and, post-war, they have no bookshops on the island. So, she sends it to him and, in due course, heads over to Guernsey to meet said society and those within.
While there, she has to play Columbo, to figure out what happened to another of their bretheren, Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), who went missing during war, and a worse fate was suspected for her better half.
Contrary to most films released these days, the male roles are fairly wishy-washy while there’s far more to get one’s teeth stuck into for the women, particularly the lovely Lily James, as well as The Commitments‘ Bronagh Gallagher as her landlady, Charlotte Stimple.
However, while there are lots of beautiful shots of Guernsey, this is often incredibly twee. For example, Juliet engaged to flashy American Mark (well, his first name is actually Markham – bleah!), but she’s forever sniffing around Dawsey, so you can easily guess how that’s going to go.
So, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not brilliant, but is not a complete Brexit, either. It’s just that when it comes the main point of the story – what happened to Elizabeth – that there’s not a whole lot to it. Plus, it takes way too long to get to that point. The rest of the time, Lily’s thinking too much about both Mark and Dawsey, and you don’t really care whether she stays with one or flits off with another, as combined, as they’re both such drips that they’re like a tap without a washer!
The film is presented in the theatrical 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and it looks as crisp and clear as you’d expect from a modern movie, with the fantastic scenes in Guernsey standing out proud.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and it’s mostly dialogue with some score, although the latter was quiet forgettable.
The extras are as follows:
- The History Behind the Film: The Occupation of GuernseyA (11:26): Although there’s no-one from the film in this, there are more important people: evacuees, survivors and others who lives through the war, and those who live in Guernsey today.
With some film clips mixed in, this is a short, but very intriguing extra and it’s interesting to learn that if the Germans built something in, on or under your house while you were gone, it was yours when you came back. One church gained an underground hospital!
- From Book To Screen (2:10): A less interesting extra, this is just a brief puff piece, mixing clips with soundbites from the cast and crew.
- Interviews: Q&As with the “Q” as a caption and the “A” with the person featured talking to someone off-camera. Basically, it’s the sort puff piece the likes of BBC Breakfast can slot into their own features when a film’s being released.
This features Lily James (4:06), Michiel Huisman (5:35), Glen Powell (5:00), Jessica Brown Findlay (4:20), Mike Newell (8:04) and novelist Annie Barrows (5:11), who co-wrote it with her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The menu features a piece of theme with some clips in the background, subtitles are in English only and there’s the bog-standard 12 chapters, although I go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes, so that would make 25 by my book.
Running time: 124 minutes
Released: August 27th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Mike Newell
Producers: Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Mitchell Kaplan and Paula Mazur
Screenplay: Don Roos, Kevin Hood and Thomas Bezucha
Novel: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Music: Alexandra Harwood
Juliet Ashton: Lily James
Dawsey Adams: Michiel Huisman
Elizabeth McKenna: Jessica Brown Findlay
Eben Ramsey: Tom Courtenay
Isola Pribby: Katherine Parkinson
Sidney Stark: Matthew Goode
Mr Gilbert: Clive Merrison
Mark Reynolds: Glen Powell
Amelia Maugery: Penelope Wilton
Eli Ramsey: Kit Connor
Charlotte Stimple: Bronagh Gallagher
Kit: Florence Keen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.