"When a struggling publisher discovers his only successful author is blocked he knows he has to unblock her or he's finished. With her new-found success, she's become too damn happy and she can't write when she's happy." -IMDb
While normally IMDb or even Netflix synopses are exactly like the one above and don't quite capture the essence of a film, this one is right on track. That is essentially what the film is about. But it's not the journey of becoming completing life that makes Not Another Happy Ending an 8.5. No, it's the realism of the struggle aspiring authors face.
Almost all aspiring author movies end with the character becoming famous (or...maybe that's been the case for several real life ones lately). But Not Another Happy Ending makes its protagonist Jane Lockhart (Karen Gillan, Oculus) famous within the first few minutes.
In the beginning, I felt as though the pacing was a bit off. Such as the fun montage of the author and publisher discussing "notes" and debuts happens very quickly into the 102 minute film. The book Lockhart wrote was semi autobiographical (aren't they all?) about her absent father and dead mother. But her father turns up at her book signing for a tearful reunion and she meets the man of her dreams, a screenwriter Willie Scott (Henry Ian Cusick, Lost). It seems almost as if the movie should have ended at the 30-minute mark.
But the more the characters developed, the more I loved to hate Lockhart's publisher -- a Frenchman keen on shouting in his native language -- Tom Duval played by Stanley Weber. The fact that Duval looks almost identical to my brother had little to do with my feelings, of course.
As an aspiring novelist myself, the struggles felt real and I shared Lockhart's excitement as she cried happy tears after being told she'd be published with a two-book deal. She even mentions her "wall of pain", which consists of every rejection letter she's ever received. Ever author has one. Most of them are in their heads. Mine's in my email inbox...
But the struggles don't stop after Lockhart becomes famous. Things seem quite all right for a while. Until she's unable to finish her second book. Then there's the spiral into almost insanity where she begins to hallucinate her main character, Darsie, in a Roxy Hart type of way. I must say, the Darsie character does an amazing job of cementing her expression like a mannequin whenever she shows up.
Eventually, with the help of Duval, Lockhart does figure out how to end her book, but I'll leave that to you viewers to find out.
Together with a wonderful new batch of Scottish pop/rock/punk artists painting the score I'd never heard of but want to hear more, a twist ending the likes of M. Night Shyamalan (except better), I definitely recommend this romantic comedy to anyone who has ever felt the sting of rejection; regardless of source.
Because we all, to some extent, idolize our pain. But what makes a writer good is that they can let go inside the dark places of their minds and spill their guts on paper. Artists are known for being a tad melodramatic and almost always harbor some kind of depression or OCD. Just look at Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As it Gets.
In so saying, I will leave you with this, my tagline: I write therefore I am...obsessive and compulsive.