“Best Sellers” (M) *** and a half
THIS warm-hearted dramatic humorous made-in-Canada romance is the first feature movie written by Anthony Grieco, whose moving-image career to date comprises playing characters in a trio of TV series.
Without exactly fitting the mould for any of those genres, it’s amusing, moderately intelligent and emotionally within the boundaries of possibility. Structurally, it builds a story around octogenarian novelist Harris Shaw whose first book about 40 years ago was a best-seller. Now, unbeknown to him, his publisher is experiencing a lean patch and its young owner Lucy (Aubrey Plaza) and her only employee Rachel (Ellen Wong) are scratching their heads to find salvation.
If Harris has another book in the pipeline, perhaps he can help. Rachel locates him in a small Canadian community where his only response to any telephone caller is “He’s dead; bugger off”. Which Lucy is not prepared to do.
The debut film of director Lina Roessler confronts publisher and author in an accumulation of petty conflicts that must resolve in something that each can live with. The experience is lively. The texture of the challenge makes a certain amount of sense.
Towering above it all is 88-year old Michael Caine playing Harris, a curmudgeon perhaps but also a creative whizzer scared to follow a debut success in case it’s not as good as its predecessor. Lucy shepherds him on the road trip promoting his new book “The Future is X-Rated” (great title waiting for someone to turn into a real best seller!). Sales rocket up, but for the wrong reasons. Asked to read from it, Harris complies – with endless repetition of one word – “bullshite” that becomes the book’s leitmotif not for its innate quality but for the fun of the crowd chanting it endlessly in pubs.
There’s much to enjoy in “Best Sellers”.
At Palace Electric and Hoyts Belconnen
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