Bestseller Review

Bestseller is the debut film from writer/director Jeong-ho Lee and for the most part he plays it safe with this enjoyable but lightweight thriller.

Eom Jeong-hwa stars as Hee Soo, a successful writer whose life is torn apart after her recent bestseller is revealed to have been plagiarised from another book. The film begins with a montage of sequences that reveal this before cutting forward two years. Hee Soo travels with her daughter to a villa in a small village where she begins writing a new book. Desperate for ideas she ultimately writes a book based on a story that her daughter tells her after hearing it from a mysterious friend. Everything though is obviously not quite as it seems.

From the very beginning Hee Soo is in the midst of a breakdown and clearly unhinged and herein in lies one of the biggest problems with the film. By introducing the audience to a character already highly strung, hysterical and on the edge she is a difficult character to engage with and despite her presence in almost every scene she still comes across as a distant and entirely a created character rather than a genuine person. Jeong-hwa works hard in the role though and despite the unconvincing writing behind her character her performance is certainly noteworthy.

Jeong-ho also works hard on the technical aspects of the film, clearly determined to hit all the right thrilling beats but this occasionally leads to him getting a little carried away. One scene that gets a little ludicrous involves Hee Soo consulting a therapist and while the two speak the camera constantly shifts position to an almost comical degree. Jeong-ho is more successful though in other areas and there are moments where he manages to pull off some genuinely creepy scenes.

Bestseller draws on the division between city life and small villages but does so with a touch more subtlety than films such as Moss, and this is certainly one of the film’s strengths. This is for the most part though its only act of subtlety, as in Bestseller Jeong-ho has created a pretty slick but heavy handed thriller much akin to a large number of popular American thrillers. Judged on this basis though Bestseller is reasonably competent and enjoyable but this is in many ways just a somewhat distracting blockbuster thriller.

A slightly different version of this review was originally posted at HeyUGuys.