“Authors Anonymous” may serve as a cautionary tale for fledgling authors, especially when it comes to joining a writer’s group. Working from an insightful script by David Congalton, director Ellie Kanner examines the diverse personalities of professional writers as well as the inherent jealousy and resentment that goes with the territory.
Kaley Cuoco leads an ensemble cast as Hannah Rinaldi, a young, inexperienced writer who isn’t well-read. Though she doesn’t have a literary background, Hannah writes from the heart, which ultimately makes her more successful than other members of her group. Tensions mount as Hannah gets the fame and perks her unpublished colleagues desperately crave.
“Dave Congalton lived through this, or a version of this,” Director Ellie Kanner explained when reached by telephone for an interview. “He based [the characters] on some of the members of [his writing] group. It’s all there and it’s all true. It’s not nearly as crazy as it could have been.”
Joining Kanner on the call, producer Hal Schwartz said he used to be a writer–or at least attempted to be one.
“That’s why I am a producer now,” he said, laughing. “The sitting in a room and working by myself is difficult for me. Then, obviously, you’re putting yourself out there. Not that we aren’t putting ourselves out there because people are going to see this movie and watch it and hopefully enjoy it. There’s something about the writing, it gets right at your heart.”
Stumbling blocks for would-be writers
Chris Klein plays Henry Obert, a former college athlete who turned to writing after a devastating football injury. Henry has the passion and the talent, but he’s simply afraid to say what he really thinks and feels. Hannah also serves as an attractive distraction for the would-be scribe.
“All writers want to be helpful, but they also know the other person is so fragile. If they say something nice about someone’s work, maybe that person will say something nice about their work,” Kanner said.
Schwartz points to another of Henry’s stumbling blocks: “In his case, he’s trying to impress the girl, which is what many writers are trying to do as well.”
In writing circles, it’s not uncommon to come across a “pretend writer,” someone who talks about the great things they will write–eventually. In the film, the perpetually broke William Bruce (Jonathan Bennett) knows how to talk the talk and walk the walk. When it comes to actual writing, however, his word count is a tad low.
“That’s the big thing: it’s about actually doing it. That’s what we tried to show, that there are so many ways to distract yourself from doing what you know you really want to be doing,” Kanner explained. “But I think writing is just the hardest thing. It’s just you.
Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein lead a solid ensemble cast
Hannah Rinaldi, like Penny on “The Big Bang Theory,” is in no danger of becoming a literary scholar, especially after fumbling over the name “Jane Austen” in the film,. It would be nice, though, to see actress Kaley Cuoco playing a Mensa candidate at some point.
“She’s actually very intelligent; she’s so smart,” Kanner said of Cuoco. “She plays these sort of ditzy, bubbly girls. She will be playing the Mensa character soon, I’m sure.”
Teri Polo threatens to steal the film, though, as would-be writer Colette Mooney. Polo has some wonderful, throw-away lines, especially about her relationship with husband Alan (Dylan Walsh).
“Teri and Dylan go way back; they’ve known each other for years and they have the same manager. They had a really nice chemistry to begin with. Obviously, they did the words on the page, but they had the freedom to explore and throw in some one-liners,” Kanner said. “Most of them are in the movie.”
Currently playing in theaters, “Authors Anonymous” also is available on iTunes and VOD.