Best Sellers — British Film Festival 2021


Having inherited her father’s boutique publishing house, Lucy Standbridge (Aubrey Plaza) is in an unenviable position.  The business is going to the wall, courtesy of plummeting titles.  A business rival is relentlessly pushing to buy the business, but Lucy is determined to do whatever it takes to keep alive her father’s legacy.

Rachel Spence (Ellen Wong), Lucy’s earnest and loyal assistant, may have found a solution.  It’s possible that Harris Shaw (Michael Caine), a once bestselling author, owes the company a book.  But it turns out that the cranky, intolerant, outrageously rude Shaw isn’t interested in contracts, publishing, book tours, or anything else involving human interaction of any kind.  He cares for nothing besides his cat, and he’s not going to cooperate.

And so begins Harris, Lucy, Rachel’s lurching rollercoaster into disaster.

Michael Caine is as good as expected as the curmudgeonly Shaw; Aubrey Plaza handles the character of Lucy with aplomb, having to take endless deep breaths in trying to manage the unmanageable Shaw; and Ellen Wong as Rachel is the assistant of any manager’s dreams — clever, hard-working, and willing to go above and beyond without overstepping the line.

Best Sellers is, by turns, very funny and very sad.  It’s also satisfying, as its protagonists unexpectedly alter one another’s lives for the better, facing up to their pasts and finding their much better selves along the way.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

— MICHELE E. HAWKINS

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