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Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

There's more to this wartime drama than meets the eye, says John Woods.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
​Directed by Mike Newell
​Blueprint pictures
Starring: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, and Penelope Wilton
2018
12A 124 minutes

Not many films manage to keep the attention for a couple of hours. This little gem starring Lily James and a strong supporting cast did manage to keep me watching. 

I love the Channel Islands, am fascinated by its wartime occupation, and I really enjoyed the quirky book on which this film is based. It is easy to see why some film critics have labelled this film “sentimental”. Yet I think that there is more to it than meets the eye. 

The film manages to weave the wartime and post-war storylines in the book together in an effective way. The film explores the power of books to stimulate the imagination, open new worlds, and reshape our perceptions. Some of the scenes evoke the capacity of great literature to inform and move the reader. 

The depiction of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a welcome reminder of the power of a community of like-minded people with a common cause. The portrayal of the complexities and costs of life during the German occupation of Guernsey refuses to be sentimental. Instead, it faces some of the realities of risk, betrayal and sacrifice. 

Take a couple of hours, take some chocolates, and take some tissues, and enjoy the show.

John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle in West Sussex.

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