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Best Sellers Review

Premiering earlier this year as an official selection at the Berlin Film Festival, Best Sellers is the latest twist on the oddball pair road trip with a distinct literary backdrop.

Directed by Lina Roessler, Best Sellers centers on the struggling Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) who has recently inherited her father’s book publishing empire. However, the business is struggling, and the latest YA novel Lucy has released in the hopes of saving the flailing company is critically panned and tanking in the charts. As a last ditch attempt, the ambitious young editor attempts to recruit the once bestselling author Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) as he still contractually owes the publishing house one final novel. However, the bitter author doesn’t take the demands too kindly, reluctantly agreeing to go along with the book and the promotional tour – only to try and sabotage Lucy’s plans along the way.

Lina Roessler’s debut feature is an utterly charming roadtrip comedy-turned-dramedy, with a winning oddball pairing in Caine and Plaza. The first two acts breeze by with plenty of humour courtesy of Shaw’s potty mouth and shocking antics, which fully come into their own as the two travel across America on a book tour which quickly garners the wrong sort of publicity. The rebellious and cantankerous recluse decides to do anything but read his book, at one point he even urinates on his latest creation in front of a millennial crowd chanting his trademark phrase “bullshite”. Admittedly its fun for a while, and it genuinely seems like Caine is having a blast in the role, (“He’s dead, bugger off!” has to be my favourite of his deliveries) but you do begin to wonder why the rebellious recluse is so self-sabotaging.

Writer Anthony Grieco begins to explore an intriguing and almost biting commentary on publicity, press tours and social media trends in the literary world, with Lucy probably quickly regretting her “bad press is good press” comment! However, once the pair begin to understand each other and a father-daughter dynamic evolves, the narrative develops into a somewhat predictable, but emotional, third act. There’s a sense that we’ve seen this before, but nevertheless, the brilliant and tender dynamic between Caine and Plaza elevate the material for a poignant conclusion.

The leading duo really do share a fantastic chemistry which develops and deepens throughout the runtime. Caine is hilarious as the hermit author who’s disdain for the industry slowly becomes apparent. It’s a hard sell to make Harris likeable, but Caine sprinkles just enough charisma and rebellious spirit to carry it off. Meanwhile, Lucy is just as stubborn as Harris and armed with a steely determination and grit to make this book – and the publishing house – a success, to prove she’s more than the legacy that’s she been handed. However, the pair truly come into their own when the heavily guarded façades begin to fade, as Harris finally reveals why he walked away from writing, while Lucy demonstrates her true editing talents. Lucy’s assistant Rachel (played by Scott Pilgrim’s Ellen Wong) is also a great addition to the cast, helping to empower the struggling publisher while offering well timed comic relief.


Best Sellers is a charming but formulaic comedy-drama which wholly benefits from Aubrey Plaza and Michael Caine’s touching performances.

Best Sellers is available now on Digital Download and is set to debut on 27 October at the Raindance Film Festival.