Hello, Bookstore review: A lighthearted documentary

Hello Bookstore
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A heartwarming documentary from director A.B. Zax, Hello, Bookstore shows how one independent book shop can bring people together.

Hello, Bookstore is and isn’t about how, in the summer of 2020, Matthew Tannenbaum set up a successful crowdfunding page to save his bookstore – called Bookstore. Lesser documentaries would have this narrative at its centre, the sole focus becoming an underdog tale of struggle which results in a joyful resolution as the community rallies around and comes together in the hour of need. Instead, A.B Zax’s documentary is something that is quieter, gentler but no-less joyous.

Filmed both pre and during Covid-19, Hello, Bookstore is instead a celebration of booksellers and their bookshops by focusing on a man who adores books more than most.

Tannenbaum has a passion for books that is prevalent from the outset of the documentary, and throughout the film we get to see that in action in different ways. It’s in the way he assists a customer with her arms-stacked-with-books gift-buying, how he advises a recently-converted-from-Amazon family with various recommendations, how he regularly regales customers with wonderfully eccentric, unexpected anecdotes and readings and how – even with the shop building all but closed in the aftermath of a global pandemic – he continued to match-make buyers up with a beloved new read.

Over the just-shy of 90 minutes runtime, we get to see bookshops in action, showing their power and, inadvertently, showing why they are so important. In Lenox, Massachusetts, Matt Tannebaum’s Bookstore is the heart of his high street, a portal to worlds of wonder. Hello, Bookstore unobtrusively surveys these joyous exchanges and, with a light hand, reminds us of how light can still be found even in the darkest of times.

Hello, Bookstore is in cinemas on 30th June.

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