Actress Emily Mortimer plays Florence Green, a widow who decides to open a bookshop in her small English town in 1959, in her new film The Bookshop. Florence, however, meets unexpected resistance from town leaders and must fight to keep her business running. Mortimer talked exclusively to uInterview about The Bookshop, reading as an act of resistance and the struggle of making independent films.

In the film, when the establishment tries to shut down Florence’s dream, Florence refuses to back down. “Florence discovers she has depths of courage and determination that she didn’t realize she had and fights them,” Mortimer told uInterview exclusively. “But as we all know, once the powers that be get it into their head that they don’t want the little man or woman on the street to do something, it’s quite hard to overcome them.”

Mortimer thinks that Florence doesn’t want to be told not to do something. “In fact, to her mind, books are, you know, a form of medicine, you know, that she’s providing a great service to this town. And the more she gets told that she can’t do it, the more baffled she becomes and the more determined she becomes that she should be allowed to do it. And she becomes, in some ways, a freedom fighter. You know books represent freedom in a way, and Florence is a free-thinking person that has independent thoughts and a free spirit. The type of person that, you know, you can only be if you’re a great reader. And books threaten some people, especially people in authority and Florence is fighting on behalf of books and of freedom.”

Mortimer said that she can relate to Florence’s determination to fight back against people who tell her not to do something. “I find that I get much more courage when it seems like an impossible task. I sort of get something in me that decides I’m just going to meet the challenge,” she said. “I think that anyone who tries to get an independent film made understands Florence on some level. Understands the sort of daily acts of courage and determination in the face of massive opposition, the fortitude and resilience that is required to get a small movie made like this. It makes one feel very sympathetic to Florence.”

The Bookshop is based on the novel of the same name by Penelope Fitzgerald. The film, currently in theaters, is written and directed by Isabel Coixet and also stars Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson.

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