Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza star in Best Sellers, a heartwarming comedy from Lina Roessler about a reclusive novelist who goes on a book tour with his desperate publisher. Something which sees their relationship develop from one of constant conflict to one of a friendship and a newfound, deeper respect and understanding of each other. It’s predictable but enjoyable, and that’s solely down to the ever-reliable Caine and Plaza.
Aubrey Plaza is Lucy Stanbridge, owner of a publishing house that was left to her by her father. Once a successful company, Lucy is now struggling to keep it afloat and desperately needs a best seller on her books in order to boost the company profile and profits. A competitor is also breathing down her neck, keen for Lucy to sell him the business. But Lucy hasn’t given up just yet.
Michael Caine plays Harris Shaw, an aged author who smokes, drinks and swears while furiously tapping out the final pages of his latest novel on a typewriter. His cat is in need of food and attention and the intrusion of his constantly ringing telephone is enough for Harris to finally send it smashing out through the nearby window. It turns out that Harris was responsible for writing a best-selling book some fifty years ago. A book which was published by the company now run by Lucy Stambridge. The lack of a follow-up novel from Harris, along with the untimely death of his wife, has since turned him into a lonely, bitter and very bad-tempered old man.
After exhausting all their options with the roster of authors that they usually work with, Lucy and her assistant (Ellen Wong) come across the original contract with Harris Shaw, which states that Harris had received a substantial upfront payment in exchange for a second novel, a novel which he never delivered. So they decide to pay him a visit.
Obviously, Harris isn’t best pleased to have visitors, but as we’ve already learnt of the financial predicament he currently finds himself in, it’s not long before he comes round, handing over the recently completed manuscript. However, part of the deal is that Harris must accompany Lucy on a book tour where he is to read from the new book and generally do all that he can to promote it and generate sales. Unfortunately, Harris isn’t really interested in all of that crap and decides instead to assault a book critic, repeat the word ‘bullshite’ over and over instead of reading out his written words and even urinate over the book in front of those who have come to see him.
Best Sellers gets by solely on its two leads. Even if it does start to wear a little thin after a while, it’s great to see Michael Caine as a grumpy, cantankerous old man, who at first glance doesn’t give a shit about anything. And Aubrey Plaza is always interesting to watch, even if she isn’t given much more to do here other than delivering a version of April Ludgate but with more responsibility and weight on her shoulders.
Without those two, I doubt that Best Sellers would be as watchable and enjoyable as it is. There’s a change of pace about halfway through, when it becomes less about saving the company and promoting the book and more about mortality instead, but there’s nothing here we haven’t already seen before, including the predictable ending.
Best Sellers will be released in the UK from 18th October
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.