Last night I saw The Bookshop, starring Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson.
Florence (Mortimer) is a British widow who decides to take back her life after grieving her husband's death. She makes her dream of opening an independent bookshop a reality in the small village of Hardborough.
The town reacts positively to the shop, visiting in droves to buy forbidden titles such as Lolita. Florence also develops a friendship with a wealthy recluse (played by the always-great Bill Nighy) who has her send him as many Ray Bradbury titles as she can find.
Trouble brews when the town powerhouse, Mrs. Gamart (Clarkson), wants to use the building Florence opened the shop in for an arts center. Florence must decide whether or not it's worth it to deplete her resources and take on the legal battle, or let it be and move on.
Though the pace of the film is incredibly uneven, there are many enjoyable aspects to it. Watching Clarkson as a villainess is fun, as is seeing Nighy in a more understated role. Perhaps the most compelling touch is the fact the film's story is told like a book, complete with voiceover narrations and actors who behave like caricatures.
More importantly it's an assessment of the toxicity that can surface in communities when gossip and abuse of power rule.
See it for the performances, the ambiance and the satisfying twist ending.