Four lifelong friends have their lives turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Diane [Diane Keaton] is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Successful hotelier Vivian [Jane Fonda] enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon [Candice Bergen], a Federal judge, is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s [Mary Steenburgen] happy marriage is in a bit of a slump after 35 years, with her husband Bruce [Craig T. Nelson] having difficulty adjusting to retirement.
From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, the friends inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.
Set Decorator Dena Roth SDSA describes for us the sets that define each of the characters, each beautifully depicted...
Karen Burg, Editor
...from Set Decorator Dena Roth SDSA...
All of the sets created for BOOK CLUB needed to reflect the individuality of each woman, and at the same time, a common ground where they all shared their great bond. Cinematically it required adjusting furniture to suit the blocking first and fill the room secondly.
The most important thing was that the space lent itself to hosting the very best of friends, where they could eat, laugh, cry and discuss ANYTHING.
These 4 iconic actors are so rich with personality and history. Consequently, they offer a great source of character material!
They are truly inspirational...
is a home with a palpable history of love and joy. Hers is the most colorful and patterned of the environments. The eclecticism of art and textiles and smalls reflects the energy and curiosity of her expansive personality. In her world, a wall of children's handprints is as artistic as a minimalist modern oil on the opposite wall. Her collection of floral and pastel kitchenware are all shades of pink and green. Retro small appliances are turquoise. Her counters are filled with fresh fruit and flowers and plates of treats
Roman shades in a raw silk let a controllable amount of sunlight stream in the many windows...the openness of the shelves and the étagère reflecting the openness of Carol’s
personality. Her shelves are filled with photography and travel books. Mixed in with family photos and kids art are small floral paintings. There are colorful folded towels ready to be used in the étagère.
Carol’s kitchen/family room is a welcoming space for family and friends. Meals and movies and projects of all kinds are a constant in her home, and always flowers and herbs and bulbs. Even though it is casual, it is definitely curated with quality. There is an orderly clutter of these things that make her happy.
The bedroom is, again, light and colorful, enhanced with contemporary large floral paintings. A fireplace flanked by easy chairs is a comfortable space to relax—this is a place where Bruce
share breakfast and newspapers in the privacy of their bedroom. A built-in wall of shelves displays numerous family photos, with pottery from various times and cultures. There is a smattering of love tokens exchanged over the years.
The garage contains a very orderly amass of decorations for all holidays. Carol
is always ready to entertain. Colorful tubs contain family memorabilia. But mostly the garage is about Bruce’s
gentleman workshop. Just enough tools and parts to keep his motorcycle alive!
, both the character and Ms. Keaton, is a person of sophisticated design sensibilities. The restrained palette is reflective of those sensibilities. Vivid color is the exception. The natural tones of linen, wood, bamboo, and sisal help keep her home calm and comfortable. This is a world she has created for her and her late husband and it will be difficult to leave.
Hers is not a home that necessarily reflects a family history. It is homey and cozy, but more reflective of her stylish collections and artistic juxtapositions. A dollhouse is decorative more than a memory of her children.
An antique textile thrown over a bannister is an effective contrast to a modern collage.
The designer, Rachel O Toole, was very hands-on with the tweaking and display of key pieces of decor. It's amazing how many configurations the designer, decorator and asst. decorator [Kathy Orlando SDSA] can come up with. The room was really a series of curated vignettes as opposed to just layered stuff. It made the choice of each and every piece crucial. Nothing was filler.
home, books were again serving the design more than reflecting her interests. Although there were character-appropriate books, we kept the spines light colored and blank.
There is an old world nod in Diane's
bedroom, although, again fresh and quirky like Diane.
The small dog oil, from Ob*jects, is sweet and lovable and sets a cozy vibe. The great Omega Cinema Props bench was a perfect gathering spot for the women and wardrobe experimenting. All the textiles are cool and neutral. The seating offers new interpretations of old styles: a traditional easy chair is upholstered in dramatic black and white blocks of color, an over-scaled Windsor chair in black is a fresh addition.
And there is a blend of Asian, English Bamboo and arts and crafts present in the bedroom.
home office reflects her hard work, intellect and success as a judge. Her desk accessories are leather, silver and glass. Her whimsical side is reflected by her cat paraphernalia. Her cat, named Ruth Bader Ginsberg
is evident in photos, high-end toys and perches. Nothing is too good for Ginsberg.
Her judge’s chambers are much more traditional. The shapes of the leather and wood are very old world. A flame-stitch camelback sofa with matching wingbacks are traditional but feminine at the same time. This is a very professional space where serious issues are handled on a daily basis.
living room, like all the communing spaces, needed to serve to comfortably and photogenically position the four women. This space was very symmetrical and orderly, but needed to embrace them. Even though the couches and chairs were mirror images, we put an articulated round bronze table to adjust to their positioning. This offered a more organic solution to their intimacy. The formality was also loosened with the addition of throw pillows and occasional leaned artwork on the floor. Also note in the background a mini-Recamier belonging to feline Ginsberg.
is the best description of Sharon
in the contemporary bar where she is to meet an online date but runs into her ex-husband and his much younger fiancé. But this is also a vehicle to help Sharon
evolve to her true self. She is way out of her comfort zone, but she is putting herself out there. Consequently, she is stronger and surprising herself with her own perseverance. She is definitely on a new journey.
Attending her son’s engagement party...
At this point in the story, Sharon
is again feeling odd in the surroundings and situation, the party is being held at her Ex’s and his fiancé’s house. Casual, colorful carefree on the surface, filled with the friends of the fiancé, it is a younger crowd. They are used to beer and beach parties. Giant expressionistic artwork fills the home. Yet, Sharon,
dressed in business attire amongst the bikini-clad, stands up and delivers an earnest heartfelt toast. She is not daunted by this environment. She is her own person.
office is her power space where she uses her smarts to run her hotel. It is fun and flamboyant. Gold, white leather, animal prints are her style.
There is a nod to Deco and old Hollywood, but with her new interpretations.
Her suite is as close to home as Vivian
gets. The suite is all hotel, but her personal layer is evident. There are old Hollywood prints and animal print textiles. Everything is luxurious, and pampering is evident. Massages and room service are part of her normal life living in the hotel.
The hotel kitchen (shot in the Biltmore kitchen) was a fun opportunity to express Vivian’s
love of entertaining. Highest-end small appliances including an espresso machine fill her personal corner of the kitchen She has co-opted a portion of the giant kitchen for her own. This is where collectible dishes and silver surface when she entertains her friends. Fabulous espresso, chocolate, fresh baked scones...or a great bottle of wine are shared here.
This is Vivian’s
The rooftop corner is Vivian’s personal retreat. She has created a spa for one. Her chaise and umbrella offer a place to have a cocktail and catch up on some reading, with a staggering view of the city. There is a personal bar in the background and lit for night visits.
It is beautiful, but poignant that it is for one.
Some insightful thoughts from Jane Fonda who plays Vivian...
“Vivian is struggling with something that I think happens to people at all ages, which is vulnerability and building up walls around yourself to protect yourself from all potential disappointments that life can bring about.
She’s hidden behind her success.
She’s hidden her fear of intimacy by being so open with physical affection. Sex? Yes. Love? Never.
She has to overcome that inability to be vulnerable with someone and believe they are worthy of that vulnerability. That someone is Arthur Riley played by Don Johnson, a man Vivian fell in love with 40 years ago.”
“...Look, I'm 80 and I know from my own personal life that it's only over when you decide it's going to be over.
What that ‘it’ is, can be anything. It doesn't necessarily have to be relationships with a man.
It can be staying curious, staying inspired, staying involved with life and trying to make a difference.
It should all be up to us.”
* Roth would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance from SDSA Business Members, particularly for this lovely film created on a very small budget!
It is important to mention that this was a crazy low budget.
It was terrifying to create spaces for these women who were used to substantial budgets to facilitate upscale tastes.
We had to plan our sets with the knowledge that it had to look like money was no object.
Thanks to Hollywood Studio Gallery, HD Buttercup, Art Pic, Ob*jects, Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, Faux Library Studio Props and Bridge Furniture & Props.
The prop houses/vendors mentioned were all so helpful and happy to be involved.
But an additional special shout out to Robert Greenfield at Warner Bros. and Allan Songer at Omega Cinema Props.
These guys have helped me so many times over the years. They have always worked with the limitations of a project and never made me feel bad for asking.
Plus, both their inventories are miraculous!