JT LEROY Review – A Movie Within A Film, A Truth Within A Lie

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JT LeRoy review — A surprisingly pedestrian take on a fascinating and elaborate story.

JT Leroy reviewEveryone thought androgynous urchin Jeremiah Terminator “JT” LeRoy was a bestselling author in the late 1990s thanks to his heart-wrenching, poignant autobiographical novels “Sarah” and “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” There’s just one problem: JT didn’t exist.

He was a character created by Laura Albert (Laura Dern), a writer who was using a pseudonym. That’s nothing new, but Albert assumed this made-up identity on the phone and online and even pretended to be LeRoy’s manager, a British woman named Speedy.

When fans and associates demanded to see JT, Albert got her sister-in-law, Savanna Knoop (Kristen Stewart), to embody him.

They lived the high life for a while but inevitably the hoax was revealed, and Knoop wrote a memoir, “Girl Boy Girl” which is the basis of this fictional biopic from King Cobra director Justin Kelly.

In addition to Dern and Stewart, who are both excellent in their roles, we have Diane Kruger as Asia Argento (the filmmakers changed her name to “Eva” presumably to avoid legal issues), Jim Sturgess as Laura’s longsuffering husband, and Courtney Love as Sasha, one of JT’s many admirers and benefactors.

While Stewart takes center stage, Dern steals the show as the manic manipulator and puppetmaster who birthed JT from her own battered heart.

It’s a fascinating and elaborate parable, inherently interesting. Therefore, JT LeRoy is bound to be enjoyable. It is. However, the approach to such a scintillating and titillating tale is surprisingly pedestrian. With none of his previous panache on display, Kelly goes the vanilla route, keeping things flat and plodding. Nearly everything is shot in standard-issue medium close-ups and medium wide-shots; there are ho-hum montages used to bridge the gaps; and every actor speaks maddeningly in mumbles and whispers.

All in all, JT LeRoy is a well-made, entertaining enough treatise on the perils of fame and fiction, and what happens to those who allow fact and fabrication to blur into far more than fifty shades of gray. But it’s probably one you’ll want to catch on the couch, not at the cineplex.

Rated R
1 Hr 48 Min

Does this JT Leroy review make you want to see it on the big screen anyway? Get times and tickets at Fandango.com

JT LeRoy review — A surprisingly pedestrian take on a fascinating and elaborate story.

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on StaciLayneWilson.com

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