The Bookshop

Rated 3.0

In 1959, a young widow (Emily Mortimer) sinks her life savings into a bookshop in a seaside English town, only to meet with the passive-aggressive opposition of a social dragon (Patricia Clarkson) who has her own plans for the building and sets about turning the provincial townspeople against her. Writer-director Isabel Coixet, adapting Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel, paces her tale with subdued dignity that borders at times on a dogged plod, but which makes it all the more effective in those rare moments when somebody finds it necessary to raise their voice. The atmosphere of genteel melancholy becomes oppressive at times—but that’s probably the point. Mortimer gets able support from Bill Nighy as her only real friend in town, and from Honor Kneafsey as a local girl who she hires on as her shop assistant.