Review: Hello, Bookstore

Year: 2022
Runtime: 86 minutes
Director: A.B. Zax

By Joan Amenn

As an unrepentant bibliophile, “Hello, Bookstore” introduced me to Matt Tannenbaum, an old friend I just met. He and his shop are so familiar, so comfortable that I feel like I was just catching up on the latest news in the little town of Lenox, Massachusetts where the store of the title is located.

Tannenbaum himself is a remarkable character. He fell into being a “bookman” as he calls himself when he wandered into the legendary Gotham Bookmart of New York City in the 1960’s fresh off a Navy boat and looking for direction. From there he journeyed to Massachusetts and settled into his community as a source of literary knowledge since 1976, or as his store motto says, “since last Tuesday.” Full of amusing stories and with the uncanny ability to quote from an endless list of favorite books, Tannenbaum is one part showman, one part archivist of the rare and wonderful in print. He mixes both old and new books in his shop and throughout the film, is always eager to track down a requested volume. But Covid-19 nearly stopped this untiring man from his mission of making sure everyone who walks into his store walks out with a new volume (at least one) and a delighted smile of anticipation.

This is a feel good film about living through and for the printed word, sharing that love and finding it returned.

Lovingly capturing each nook and corner of the bookstore and its wine bar, aptly named “Get Lit,” Director A.B. Zax draws us into the small-town life of Tannenbaum and his two daughters who look after him and make sure he eats. When Tannenbaum falls on hard times due to the pandemic, he has no choice but to turn to his community whom he has served for so many years for help. His stirring recitation of the “St. Crispin’s Day” speech from “Henry V” as he recognizes his patrons as his brothers-in-arms is deeply touching. This is a feel good film about living through and for the printed word, sharing that love and finding it returned. Here’s to “The Bookstore”-long may it find hands to eagerly turn the pages of the volumes it contains within its walls.

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