Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) is an exhausted and angry old author who has since retired from writing. He lives his days trying to write on his typewriter while drinking alcohol and smoking heavily. Harris has decided to hide from the rest of the world, putting signs on his front door advising people to go away and ignoring his ringing phone.
On the flip side, we meet Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza), a book publishing company owner. When the company’s most recent book fails to make any decent sales, Lucy decides to get creative in her attempts to make a profit. Instead of looking for new writers, she decides to look back at some of the best selling novels the company had published in the past. Lucy has hopes that perhaps an old writer who once got published is just sitting on the next big novel. But as Lucy investigates, she discovers an old agreement with the writer Harris Shaw which promises he will provide a new book and do a tour. There’s just one problem: Harris is not one bit interested. But to fulfil the contract, Harris now has no choice other than to conduct the book tour with Lucy, who hopes it will positively impact her company.
Best Sellers is best described as a comedy, or at least that is how it begins. The laughs here come naturally from the character of Harris Shaw, played by Michael Caine. Caine is tremendous as a grumpy, older man who is quite rude and sick of life itself. But as the film progresses, the tone changes from comedy to drama as both Harris and Lucy begin to relate to each other’s past and challenges in life.
For the most part, performances are generally okay. Michael Caine delivers an entertaining character as usual. The relationship between Harris and Lucy is fun to watch as they both come from different worlds and have different past experiences. Lucy is more of a mature character than Harris, but she still has moments of weakness and randomness, which was pleasing to see.
While I found myself rather engaged in the plot right from the beginning thanks to the good opening, the pacing becomes questionable as the film progresses. There are many subplots and moments when the movie feels unsure of its path and goes in various directions. At times, the friendship that occurs between Harris and Lucy can feel rushed and not believable. It feels as though their relationship develops suddenly, and Lucy has no reason to care about Harris. This is especially felt after they see eye to eye and discover many aspects of their lives are similar. I understood and appreciated the attempted heartfelt tones, but I never felt significantly impacted.
Overall, I enjoyed aspects of Best Sellers, such as the performances, especially from Michael Caine, who plays a fun cranky old bloke. Best Sellers begins with a fun concept and what seems to be a humorous journey before turning into a dramatic story that drops in quality and entertainment. At times, the new friendship between the leads is challenging to accept, and the main plot gets distracted with random moments or sidetracked with subplots at multiple times.