Authors Anonymous (2014) – Review

 

Sometimes art successfully imitates life. Sometimes the life that art imitiates is not all that interesting. It may well be accurate, but really, sometimes we just don’t care enough about the subject, or the people presenting it to us.

When it comes to making a feature film about what it is to be a struggling writer, well, you’d better fill it with something other than brow-furrowing and hand-wringing. A writer’s life is dull. Dull, dull and dull.

As I know only too well, writers in general and novelists in particular are often paranoid, unsociable, self-deprecating and sometimes talentless worriers that, regularly, are not skilled enough in their chosen profession to have the right to use the term ‘Writer’ in the first place when describing what they attempt to do, even if they are smart enough to know that they aren’t good enough to do the job they are (or are not, in this case) being paid for.

So just how interesting could it be to watch this collection of amateur literary wannabes, given that if you are a writer yourself (possibly the only real demographic at which this is aimed), you may find your least attractive qualities; you know, the ones you try so hard to supress in the squishy stuff in the back of that yawning chasm you call your brain, on the screen in front of you, for all to see? In short, it will probably make the writers squirm. If that is the case, then you might say that Authors Anonymous has done a good job of presenting this most harrowing of careers to a wider audience, perhaps providing some kind of catharsis for those trying to be creative and a better understanding for those that have to live with or near them.

They are the dreamers and the story-tellers. As per the advice they have no doubt heard a thousand times, they write about what they know. And what they think they know about is writing, of course. This would probably explain the frankly disproportionate number of films about writers. Narcissism? Probably not. Probably more like therapy, I expect.

Anyway, the bewildering cacophony of mumbling, suffering misery that is the life of creative writing in all its abhorrent forms is laid out quite nicely in front of us here. A sordid collection of the very worst pigeon-holed characters that all crave, well..something else. Something better than they have already. Some need nothing more than the recognition that they have a discernible skill in a medium they love. Others want to be seen as creative geniuses and some just want the notoriety and wads of cash that successful writing can bring, even if that means they get it purely by association, without the actual ability.

And in this respect, Authors Anonymous does indeed bring some of these characters cringingly to life. We have the writer with writer’s block, the one that re-writes three sentences over and over because they think each word has to be birthed with forceps from their very soul for it to have meaning. There are talentless hangers-on that dream of being seen as a writer with no hope of actually achieving it, with ample reason, and the classic example of reality in a world where so little is actually real; the lucky one. That one that doesn’t like reading, doesn’t write as well as you can (they can, and do, you’re just unfairly biased), but somehow manages to get a break, an agent, a publisher and the movie rights. Bitch.

Proving that no matter what your walk of life, there will always be those people that cannot accept good news for other people, particularly if they feel that is is they that deserve it instead, Authors Anonymous delights its audience with some (as to be expected) brilliantly observed writing, picking apart the minutae of the writer’s spirit and the inevitable mechanisms of coping with rejection.

With some excellent performances that all writers will recognise only too well, not only in themselves but also in people they know (I saw at least a couple of examples that I am guilty of myself), it is a lovely representation of good-natured fun-pokery at the expense of struggling creativity. Shot in a mock-doc style, with just as much to camera directly as played out in a more traditional style, Authors Anonymous may not be a compelling or riveting watch and sometimes dawdles, but this indie is considered and realised well. And if I ever meet The Moones in real life, I’m going to slap one and punch the other, not only for being frighteningly realistic, but for telling everyone about it too.

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