Best Sellers is a 2021 comedy-drama film directed by Lina Roessler with written by Anthony Grieco. The premise : A cranky author (Michael Caine) must take part in a book tour in order to save his publisher’s (Aubrey Plaza) company.
S P O I L E R S
Not much to recommend Best Sellers, sad to report. But it would be worthwhile to analyse its story to determine why Best Sellers fails to be an engaging film. After all, it does star two excellent actors who have proven track records but the weak story truly lets them both down.
The premise is flimsy at best. Presumably, Plaza’s Lucy Stanbridge character is the main character/protagonist as her dramatic need is to save her father’s publishing company or ultimately sell out. Her means of achieving her quest – and also her primary obstacle – is Harris Shaw (Caine) the anti-social author of a best-selling novel – who, has after years of apparent inactivity, delivered his new manuscript to Lucy.
The second act is a mess as Lucy and Harris embark on the book tour with disastrous results, mainly due to Harris’ lack of co-operation. Both Lucy and Harris are two-dimensional personalities. Lucy is trying to prove herself worthy of Harris’ respect while Harris is a stereotypical misanthrope, resisting Lucy’s attempts at promoting his book.
Inevitably, Lucy and Harris connect – though it is not clear why exactly – and this changes the dynamic of the film as through a series of mishaps, Harris gains online notoriety and inexplicably, the book becomes a best seller (!) – nonsensical.
But then, at this moment, the plot goes completely off the rails and the pacing falls to the ground and stays there. Harris’ health makes a turn for the worse, Lucy makes a sacrifice to save Harris’ house and sells her father’s company. So, what was the lesson that both characters learnt in the course of the movie? Who knows? There is of course, an obligatory (silly) happy ending of sorts and all’s well that end’s well.
With better plotting and characterisation, Best Sellers might have been an engaging study into the generation gap, of aging, dying and loss. Instead it is neither funny nor touching and should be avoided at all costs!
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