The filmmakers of the French New Wave were not just making pictures. They were fighting a war. A war against machinery that sold the idea of “perfect art.” Today, millennials create perfect pictures, but they lack truth. However, Lina Roessler’s film, “Best Sellers,” believes that “art is not propaganda, it’s an expression of truth.” And all true works of art generate true emotions.
Best Sellers is written by Anthony Grieco and stars Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza in the lead roles. The story revolves around a grumpy old novelist who sells his book to a young publisher to help her save her father’s publishing legacy. What follows is an emotional journey that aids both characters in reaching their respective conclusions.
If not perfect, Lina Roessler’s film is undoubtedly truthful.
‘Best Sellers’ Plot Summary
A young American publisher, Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza), runs her father’s publishing house, Stanbridge Publishing. However, Lucy fails to catch up with her father’s legacy after a series of books fail to impact the market. She ardently looks for relevant writers that can make the publishing company relevant again. But her secretary, Rachel Spence (Ellen Wong), informs her that not many writers want to associate with their company.
While brainstorming, Lucy comes up with a name, Harris Shaw, a legendary author whose only book, “Atomic Autumn,” was published by Lucy’s father some 50 years ago. Rachel speculates that he may be dead as no one has heard from him in all these years. Yet, Lucy tries her luck and digs out Shaw’s contract. They find out that Shaw took a $25,000 advance from the company and, in return, owes them a book. However, as per the contract conditions, there will be no edits or revisions to the draft submitted by the author. And in exchange, the author must promote the book per the publisher’s request.
Rachel warns Lucy that contacting cranky Harris Shaw may not be a good idea, but Lucy is ardent. The two visit Shaw’s abode in Westchester while reading about his violent, inappropriate behavior on their way. Lucy humbly knocks on the door, but they trespass on the property when no one answers it. The eccentric Harris Shaw points a gun at Lucy and Rachel and rudely asks them to leave. Failing at her attempt to get a book from Shaw, Lucy has no other option but to sell off her father’s company to an interested buyer, Jack Sinclair (Scott Speedman), owner of Sinclair Publishing.
But, before Lucy takes the big step, Shaw walks into the office and places his latest manuscript, “The Future is X-Rated,” on the table. The new book brings new hope, and Lucy cancels the deal with Sinclair. She informs Shaw about the contract according to which he has to help the publisher promote the book. Shaw reluctantly agrees, and a naïve Lucy feels she has hit the jackpot. Still, it’s just the beginning of an emotional mess.
‘Best Sellers’ Ending Explained
For some reason, the cranky Harris Shaw refused to read from the book during the book tours. Instead, he threw offensive words at his audience that made him famous among millennials. While the negative publicity made Shaw famous on the internet, it didn’t help Lucy sell the books. After an emotional argument, Harris agreed to read, but on the next reading, he just walked away. Lucy finally figured out a new way to harness Shaw’s publicity and talent. She approached youngsters to record the best snippets from the book, which she uploaded on YouTube. The marketing strategy boosted the sales just like Lucy wanted.
The act helped Shaw and Lucy to bridge their differences. They became friendly, and Shaw even helped Lucy with another pass to reissue the book. However, the happiness was short-lived. Lucy visited the old daycare center to meet her ailing father, Joseph F. Stanbridge. In the scene, Lucy finds out a shocking truth. Shaw told Lucy that her father was a fraud. He pretended to be a great editor, but in reality, he never touched a word. Shaw’s late wife, Elizabeth, edited his most famous book, “Atomic Autumn.” But she handed her credit to Joseph because Elizabeth was pregnant and the couple needed money.
A devastated Shaw walked on the street remembering his late wife when suddenly he saw his picture on display. Shaw called himself a fraud and, in a fury, burnt down his books in the bookshop. He suffered a stroke and fainted. After the controversy, Shaw’s book climbed the success ladder and reached the best sellers list.
Lucy wanted to rejoice, but she soon found out about Shaw’s terminal illness. He suffered from heart disease, lung cancer, and liver cirrhosis and had a short time to live. Lucy took Shaw home and took care of him like a daughter. Her gestures melted the cranky author’s heart.
Lucy discovered that Shaw had taken a line of credit out against the house in 2005 and owed five hundred thousand dollars to the bank. The agent, Verne Olson, believed that Shaw might have earned a hefty amount from the sale of his last book, but Lucy informed him that he was not going to get a return for at least six months. Without any credit in Shaw’s account, the bank might have to put his house on sale in two weeks. It was the point that demanded a sacrifice from Lucy.
Lucy knew how much the house meant to Shaw. His late wife lived in it, and Shaw wrote all his stories under the roof. Understanding the importance of the property, Lucy made a deal with Jack Sinclair. She sold her publishing house to Sinclair publishing. Anyways, Lucy had discovered that her father had no real legacy at all, and it was all a fluke. Instead of continuing her father’s lie, she decided to sow the seeds of her own truth.
Harris Shaw died peacefully in his sleep. Before leaving, he left a note for Lucy Stanbridge on his typewriter. The letter and a mysterious key led to Shaw’s attic. He kept all of his unpublished manuscripts from the previous 40 years. Lucy always wanted to become an editor, and Shaw felt that. He left his life’s work for her to help transform her dreams into reality.
Maybe the last words of Jay Gatsby (from The Great Gatsby) influenced the Best Sellers Ending in a good way. In a Truthful Way.
Best Sellers is a 2021 drama-comedy film directed by Lina Roessler. It stars Michael Caine in the lead role.