Authors Anonymous Is a Mockumentary That Punches Down


Ellie Kanner’s Authors Anonymous concerns a writing workshop for aspiring novelists, but on the strength of the film you get the sense that Kanner would benefit from attending a few workshops of her own. Although perhaps the blame ought to be directed elsewhere.

This is the debut screenplay by a certain David Congalton, who is described in his Amazon profile as “a speaker, radio talk show host, and animal welfare advocate”; he’s also the author of such estimable works of nonfiction as When Your Pet Outlives You: Protecting Animal Companions After You Die and Three Cats, Two Dogs: One Journey Through Multiple Pet Loss.

Congalton seems to have moved on from themes of feline mortality and grief, as what pets appear in Authors Anonymous survive the picture intact. He’s settled instead into bitterness and resentment: His film is little more than an exercise in sustained contempt, a petty little missive directed at anyone who dares to wield a pen.

The tone is broadly satirical, and the target is all manner of apparently disreputable writers: out-of-touch genre scribes, housewife hobbyists, vacuous success stories, the lot of them united only by Congalton and Kanner’s reductive gaze.

The form is the mockumentary, all the better to flatten stock types down to a more readily ridiculed two dimensions. One of our leads has never heard of Jane Austen; another mispronounces Joan Didion. Time and again we’re reminded of their stupidity. The film needs to be reminded of the same.