Director: Lina Roessler
Starring: Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Speedman, Ellen Wong and Cary Elwes
Run time: 1h 42min
Part drama, part comedy, or dramedy if you will, Best Sellers is a thoroughly charming yet completely predictable take on the odd-couple-road-trip movie with Michael Caine once again proving why he’s acting royalty and a national treasure.
Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) has inherited her father’s publishing agency. They’re in desperate need of a hit as their book sales are in decline. Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) is a reclusive author whose one and only book 40 years ago was a worldwide smash. When Lucy discovers an unfulfilled obligation in Shaw’s contract, he reluctantly agrees to embark on a book tour with her to promote his new work. The one problem Lucy faces is that Shaw is an obnoxious, alcoholic, people-hating, potty-mouthed jerk who couldn’t care less about promoting his book.
Obviously, the tour doesn’t go as planned with an intolerable Shaw doing his utmost to self-sabotage sales, drinking himself into oblivion, and at one point even urinating onto a copy of his book to the delight of the iPhone-obsessed audience. But as the film develops, so too does their relationship as the pair begin to see each other in a different light. Yes, it’s formulaic and nothing we haven’t seen before, but thanks to the two excellent lead performances the journey is well worth taking with the final destination proving to be an emotional and poignant one.
Debut director Lina Roessler keeps the pace ticking along nicely and together with writer Anthony Grieco they raise some interesting social commentary about the fickle nature of fame and the fleeting force of an Internet hashtag trend. There’s an extremely clever use of archive footage from the 1970s and non-other than Michael Parkinson’s chat show, but the script relies a little too heavily on Caine’s cockney cursing to keep it from stalling.
Caine and Plaza are superb together. Even at 88 years old, Caine is still a monumental figure. Harris Shaw seemingly has nothing left to live for. There’s bitterness and resentment oozing from his Johnnie Walker eyes and he plays the part without fear or consequence. It’s a testament to Caine’s skills as an actor that he manages to make Shaw likable at all. Lucy has a steely determination to prove she has what it takes to continue her father’s legacy. Playing it relatively straight, her understated performance blends beautifully with Caine’s and it’s a shame they’re not together in a better film.
It’s worth mentioning Eileen Wong as Lucy’s loyal assistant who offers excellent comic relief, however, one slightly jarring moment comes from Cary Elwes and his extravagantly flamboyant critic whose performance is completely out of place and unnecessary.
Although it won’t top the charts, Best Sellers has a lot of heart and two stellar performances that breathe life into an inconsistent script.
Best Sellers is available on Digital Download from 18th October and will screen at the 29th Raindance Film Festival on 27th October