Best Sellers opens Raindance Film Festival 2021
Much of the advance publicity for Best Sellers has focused on the fact that this might well be Michael Caine’s last film. He has made numerous contradictory hints about his future plans (or lack thereof), while his representatives hurriedly (and emphatically) suggested that Caine’s last hurrah is yet to come. If Best Sellers proves to be his swan song, is it an appropriate adieu for a monumental career? It should be noted that Gene Hackman’s final role was in Welcome to Mooseport. Remember that film? No? Fair enough. Cameron Diaz bid farewell with a remake of Annie. As such, it could absolutely, unequivocally be worse.
Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) has inherited her father’s publishing house, and it isn’t going well. The vultures are circling, and a takeover is imminent. In a last-ditch effort to save her father’s legacy, she decides to exploit someone else’s. After discovering that she has the reclusive, former bestselling author Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) under contract, she leaps at the opportunity to publish his first novel since the 1970s. He’s not exactly cooperative, and she must take him on a book tour/road trip in a desperate attempt to boost sales.
Michael Caine delivers yet another vintage years Caine performance. Although frail and reliant on a stick, his Harris Shaw is incisive and vibrant. He’s cantankerous with many sharp edges, but the character is still oddly soothing. Plaza essentially plays the straight woman, and she does so with succinct skill. These two delightful performers give the film far more astuteness than it would otherwise deserve.
Anthony Grieco’s screenplay has yet to meet a cliché it doesn’t want to repeatedly embrace. The narrative has some severe credibility issues, and a lot of fat should have been trimmed before a single frame was committed to celluloid. It would be of tremendous assistance if director Lina Roessler’s production wasn’t quite so aggressively heartwarming. The score (courtesy of composer Paul Leonard-Morgan) is rather on-the-nose too – overcooked and intrusive to the point of distraction. When it’s not sounding like offcuts from The Devil Wears Prada, it’s threatening that whimsy will break out at any moment.
Maybe Best Sellers will be the full stop on Michael Caine’s cinematic career. If so, it’s not a half bad way to close the curtain. It’s not going out with a bang (or a whimper), but is instead going out with a richly deserved, satisfied nod.
Best Sellers was released on 17th September 2021.
The Raindance Film Festival is on from 27th October until 6th November 2021. For further information visit here.
Watch the trailer for Best Sellers here: