By Dominique Simpson
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not the quick witted movie one might think it may be from the title. The Guernsey Literary is actually a plethora of different tones and emotions, all jumbled into a movie about love, and war. Starting with a comedic tone, the audience gets to see the underlying pain everyone was feeling during the occupation, and how they coped with the war. Director Mike Newell and the unexpected cast, portray The Potato Peel Pie Society in a fun-loving yet, serious way. You won’t see any A-list celebrities in this one, yet I sure cannot think of any other cast to make the story of Guernsey come alive. Lily James takes the tortured artist role to another level, while Michiel Huisman plays the perfect mysterious love interest. From characters that were named to characters that simply had just a job description, the emotion everyone brought to the table gave a real-life feel to the film.
Based off the 2008 book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society showed the importance of literature and power of words during WWII. Set the scene in London, 1946, a writer starts exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was occupied by Germany in WWII. Feeling overwhelmed with the emotion to visit the island, the writer starts to get a sense of what it was like during the occupation. The movie showed the contrast between high society in the 1940’s and poverty, whether it be in the differences between their parties or their clothes; the director succeeds in showing the major differences and importance of money. While Juliet Ashton (main character), was wearing fancy dresses and going to lavish parties, the movie would cut to Dawsey Adams, showing the rags he and his family/friends were wearing and how their happiness came from simply being together and warm. Architecture and fashion seemed to play a large role in showing the differences between characters. While Juilet and Dawsey were narrating their letters, the setting would be entirely different. Juilet would be in a large apartment with very nice things, while Dawsey would be sitting in a wooden chair in a cottage.
For all our inner film geek, the use of camera technique and music is impeccable. Wide shots are of high usage in this film, and beautifully done if I do say so. The use of saturation is incredibly important as well. The telling of emotion and hard-times is through the saturation of color. If it were present day, and everyone was delighted, the saturation would be incredibly high. The greens brighter, the red’s as bright as a firetruck. If the scene was a flashback, and during the occupation, the saturation would have a grey tone. Music was crucial, the suspense was played through instrumental, and the happy times were played through jazz (this is the 40’s after all).
If you enjoy fashion of the 40’s, architecture of Europe, historical context, and romance; this film is for you. It has every quality of a sweet romance film, while telling the story of the holocaust from the perspective of the victim’s family members that were left behind. There are secrets after secrets revealed, and the character development is quite easy to follow. The heart-warming ending really brings this sad love story during the war, to a beautiful close. I give this movie a 8/10. Even though I did not read the book before the film, I might pick it up. I suggest you do as well. Give The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a try. (Just don’t try actual potato peel pie, Eben Ramsey says it’s the worst).
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew William Goode, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtney, and Andy Gathergood.
Running Time: 2 hours and 4 min.
Release: 2018, Netflix