Ayoade on Top by Richard Ayoade – Book Review

Title: Ayoade on Top

Author: Richard Ayode

Genre/Themes: Non-Fiction, Film Review, Comedy, Farce, View From the Top, Gwyneth Paltrow

Blurb from Goodreads

At last, the definitive book about perhaps the best cabin crew dramedy ever filmed: View From the Top starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

In Ayoade on Top, Richard Ayoade, perhaps one of the most ‘insubstantial‘ people of our age, takes us on a journey from Peckham to Paris by way of Nevada and other places we don’t care about. It’s a journey deep within, in a way that’s respectful and non-invasive; a journey for which we will all pay a heavy price, even if you’ve waited for the smaller paperback edition.

Ayoade argues for the canonisation of this brutal masterpiece, a film that celebrates capitalism in all its victimless glory; one we might imagine Donald Trump himself half-watching on his private jet’s gold-plated flat screen while his other puffy eye scans the cabin for fresh, young prey.

My Review

This book is the book that I didn’t know I needed in my life.

I’m a big fan of Richard Aoyade. I’ll basically watch him on any show that he’s on whether it’s in actor, comedy guest or presenter capacity. His sense of humour is so dry, so delightfully droll that in my eyes he always outshines whomever he is on screen with.

Sometime in late Autumn / early Winter 2019 he was a guest on Graham Norton’s BBC chat show to promote this book and once I heard the premise I knew I HAD to read it.

“This book is about one film in particular: a 2003 cabin crew dramedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow called ‘View from the Top’. And this very particular film, like all exemplars of the cinematic arts, concerns a journey.

But this book is not just a book about a movie about a journey, it’s also a book about *my/our* journey with that movie about a journey, a journey soundtracked by the sweet soft-rock sounds of Journey.

Or to be precise, this book contains *multiple* Journeys. The Journey of The Book, the Journey of The Film, the Journey of Us i.e. Me, the Journey of the band Journey and (perhaps least importantly) the Journey of You.

Our destination? Well, let’s just say you won’t find it on any map.

Our travel time? Unknown (But not long: this ain’t Anna Karenina, aka Madame Bovary XL #InYourFaceTolstoy.)

The inflight entertainment? I guess that depends on your capacity to withstand pernickety prose in a quasi-literary sub-genre that’s hard to define, let alone shelve.”

I don’t know if anyone reading this review has ever either seen or heard of the Gwyneth Paltrow film ‘View from the Top‘. If this film is new to you I’m not actually all that surprised, as it was something of a box office flop…and unsurprisingly so as it’s… well it’s less than good. Rather cringe really and incredibly entrenched in jaded cliché and somewhat problematic stereotype.

And what Ayoade does in this novel is takes that remarkably unspectacular film and dissects it scene by scene in order to tell us why this celluloid effort, “a brutal masterpiece that celebrates capitalism in all its victimless glory”, should belong in the Hollywood canon of Cinematic Masterpieces …

But this is Richard Ayoade…

So you know it’s tongue in cheek and laden with his droll sensibilities.

I spent one of the greatest days of my life reading this book.

I swear I have never laughed so hard and so loud at a novel.

It is simply ingenious.

Aoyade is razor sharp with his insights into the cinematic directions of the film (he is an acclaimed director himself) and his seemingly earnest observations about the quality of the plot, the acting, the dialogue…

It all adds up to sheer brilliance and one of the most absurd and utterly endearing books I have ever read.

There is absolutely no need for the reader to have actually seen ‘View from the Top‘ prior to reading this book… Nor will there be much of a desire to see it after one has read the book! But oh the fun you’ll have reading this book.

A great five star read that makes me want to immediately read everything else this brilliant man has written and will write in the future.


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