The Bookshop Parent Guide
Despite an excellent cast and a beautiful setting, this film falls short of expectations.
Parent Movie Review
Bookshops and libraries are magical spaces for bookworms. They are places to spend quiet afternoons, slowly browsing the shelves, searching out compelling new reads. Although that unhurried tempo is part of the charm of those experiences, The Bookshop, in its big screen debut, keeps the tempo but loses the charm.
This tale opens hopefully in the small East Anglian town of Harborough, circa 1959. Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a middle-aged widow, has decided to fulfill her dream and start her own bookshop. She buys a rundown building, appropriately named the Old House, and opens for business. Unfortunately for Florence, the local grand dame, Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), has determined that the Old House would be the perfect site for an arts center. Violet is used to getting what she wants and is not going to let anything as minor as legal title stand in her way.
The rest of the movie is a battle between these two determined women. Florence, on her side, has courage and two allies: her eleven-year-old shop assistant, Christine Gipping (Honor Kneafsey), and local recluse and bibliophile, Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy). In comparison, Violet has deep pockets, no moral scruples, connections with local government, and a nephew in parliament.
It is disappointing that this conflict fails to generate much excitement. And that is the root of this film’s problem. The Bookshop should be better than it is. Adapted from Penelope Fitzgerald’s best-selling novel, it has an excellent cast and enjoys a beautiful setting . However, the directing is clumsy and heavy-handed, the pacing is slow and uneven, and the movie is a good twenty minutes too long. The secondary characters are almost all wooden and unconvincing. Even heartfelt performances by Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy can’t breathe life into this dusty story– although the wind certainly could. The East Anglian coast experiences dramatic weather and there are so many shots of the wind blowing across the scenery that it is almost a character in the film.
On the bright side, this movie has very minor content issues. There are a handful of mild profanities and some smoking and social drinking. This is not a movie for children, who would not be interested in the plot. But there are no reasons why teens or adults shouldn’t watch The Bookshop. Sadly, there just aren’t any reasons why they would want to.Directed by Isabel Coixet. Starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson. Running time: 114 minutes. Theatrical release August 24, 2018. Updated April 18, 2020
Watch the trailer for The Bookshop
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Bookshop rated PG? The Bookshop is rated PG by the MPAA For some thematic elements, language, and brief smoking
Violence: A character commits arson out of spite: the actual act is off-screen and only distant smoke is shown. The main character is legally bullied by other characters.
Sexual Content: A card is briefly seen with a picture of a man ogling a woman’s clothed chest.
Profanity: There are a handful of mild profanities and a term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes at a party. A man pours himself a glass of wine in his home.
Page last updated April 18, 2020
The Bookshop Parents' Guide
Florence’s life is driven by her love of reading. Have you ever had a book that changed your perspective on something? If you could give one book to everyone around you, which one would you choose?
If you love books and want to share with those who can’t afford their own, you can donate them through many different charities.
Florence says, “There is a certain responsibility about trying to run a bookshop.” She struggles with whether or not she should stock a controversial erotic novel. Do you think she makes the right decision? Do you think bookstores and libraries have a duty to protect people from distasteful reading material or do you think they have a responsibility to provide as many choices as possible for their readers?
Should libraries ban potentially offensive children’s books?
Why do books get banned by bookstores and libraries?