Starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Diane Kruger, Jim Sturgess, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Courtney Love, James Jagger, Dave Brown
Sometimes when you take a chance on a movie you’re mildly curious about, it pays off, other times, not so much. One of those this year was JT Leroy, a wild but true story from the early 2000s. In a way, this film is like a female counterpart to last year’s The Disaster Artist and the ridiculousness of the events is equally absurd. Unfortunately, director Justin Kelly (King Cobra) doesn’t have the experience or passion for the material that James Franco did telling delivering Tommy Wiseau’s story. Even worse, it’s told from the wrong character’s (Savannah Knoop) point of view, which relegates it to just another Kristen Stewart flick.
It’s San Francisco 2001, Geoffrey (Jim Sturgess) has invited his younger sister Savannah (Kristen Stewart) to live with him and girlfriend Laura Albert (Laura Dern). It’s a fresh start for Savannah. Laura and Savannah hit it off instantly, mostly because the young girl is a sponge for Laura’s “pure creative genius” she likes to spout. Savannah is introduced to Jeremiah Terminator Leroy, a pseudonym Laura has created for an androgynous avatar through which she writes books about her own troubled lifestyle. Savannah embodies the spirit and essence of JT Leroy and what starts as a simple photo for media purposes, evolves into an impersonation that captivates Hollywood. Actress turned director Eva (Kruger) falls for Leroy via Laura’s phone conversations and Savannah’s looks, gaining the rights to shoot a film based on the book which will require both women to work double duty to keep up the ruse.
The filmmakers don’t find enough creative ways to keep the film interesting. The Disaster Artist wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, and I pray these two films don’t create a trend of movies about bizarre personalities who momentarily penetrate the Hollywood bubble.
“Sometimes the lies are more true than the truth,” Dern’s character explains. It’s the Jurassic Park actress that has the most impressive performances. She’s having phone sex, and manipulating friendships and clients, all in various accents and wild wardrobe choices. This is not to say that Stewart’s performance is bad. The Lizzie actress nails the shy and awkward essence of Savannah, but it’s the same performance we’ve seen before from Stewart. Going back as far as Twilight, she always playing some version of herself. Jeremiah Terminator Leroy is a complicated story to put on film and while we certainly walk away understanding the manipulation these two pulled off for months, it’s a hollow film.
The filmmakers don’t find enough creative ways to keep the film interesting. The Disaster Artist wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, and I pray these two films don’t create a trend of movies about bizarre personalities who momentarily penetrate the Hollywood bubble. However, if Disaster Artist had been told from Dave Franco’s characters point of view it wouldn’t have been as interesting. So, I’m not sure why this one is told from Savannah’s view when both the Laura character and actress Dern are far more interesting. This is a small movie, shot mostly inside crappy interiors, often with just the two actresses on screen plotting or discussing. The scenes shot during the Cannes Film Festival are the only moments the movie seems to widen its cinematic scope.
A story that’s as fascinating as it is bizarre, but ultimately the filmmakers don’t find a way to make it compelling.