Somehow contriving to be even worse than its faux-eccentric title suggests, this interminable heritage twaddle is adapted from a best-selling book I’d never heard of and stars Lily James as tailored London author Juliet Ashton who visits the isle of Guernsey just after the War at the request of a fan of one of her books.
Guernsey was, remember, occupied by the Nazis, so Juliet sets about uncovering some wartime secrets among the island’s motley book club members (who include Tom Courtenay, Katherine Parkinson, Jessica Brown Findlay and Penelope Wilton), fragments of which are revealed in flashbacks while Juliet takes a fancy to the hunky local pig farmer.
While she is drawn further into island life and ‘intrigue’, her agent (Matthew Goode) frets about cancelling a book tour and her new American GI fiancee demands his gal comes home to London.
I wanted to throw books at the screen. It’s so insufferably smug and cosy, so tiresomely tame and sexless. It’s so anodyne and thrill-less it makes the vaguely similar Their Finest feel like Where Eagles Dare.
I know I’m not the target audience, but neither am I for The Leisure Seeker, for example, yet that managed to find some connection to reality and to my real feelings – this, directed by Mike Newell who really can do better, has nothing authentic or honest about it, not even its love for books and stories. A patronising waste of good costume and production designers, the British film industry needs to bring back rationing and limit this sort of wartime guff. Our country doesn’t need it.