Film Review: JT LeRoy

Based on a true story, JT LeRoy offers a great hook and solid performances. For a story this interesting however, the film does lack vivacity. 

Laura pens a bestselling novel under the pseudonym JT LeRoy. When she is asked to do publicity for the book, Laura enlists her sister-in-law Savannah to take on the imaginary persona…

Directed by Justin Kelly, based on the screenplay by Kelly and Savannah Knoop herself, JT LeRoy offers quite the premise. It is a real stranger-than-fiction plot; a simple deception of an author’s identity gets out of hand  as her book grows in popularity. Similar themes to Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? are present, although this film lacks the memorability of Heller’s film. 

The theme of identity is obviously key. Nevertheless, the focus on being heard, and reluctance of Savannah, come into play after the first third.  The voiceovers early on give a good feel for the source material. 

The change in the main characters’ demeanours is portrayed well. Pulling the focus from Laura to Savannah functions to give the JT LeRoy a more somber tone. After the deception comes out, Laura is given more attention once more. The difference in the way the two women deal with it again highlight their distinct personalities. 

Savannah’s relationship with Sean is not really developed to begin with. In the context of Savannah’s deception, this relationship functions merely to illustrate her mindset. This is not wholly a bad thing, JT LeRoy gives an insight into why she would take part in such a deception. Nevertheless, the relationship is not fleshed out sufficiently. 

The Paris scenes create tension well. Kelly knows when to use music and when to hold back. The film loses a bit of momentum in the middle third. It loses pep of first third, but is a thoughtful centre. The final third sees the deception unravel. 

Laura Dern is a ball of energy, really driving the film along. An understated Kristen Stewart is a good contrast to her. Diane Krueger is also good in a small role, while Jim Sturgess is not given a lot to do. Costumes and styling are good, as is the editing. 

The energy of Hole’s ‘Celebrity Skin’ over the end credits is the energy viewers may have hoped director Justin Kelly would bring to film. JT LeRoy is more pensive. This really works at times, although it can leave the film feeling a little flat. 

JT LeRoy is out in cinemas and on Digital HD on 16th August 2019.

Previews: Queen & Slim, The Irishman, more!

Lots of tantalising clips in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Queen & Slim trailer, The Irishman, JT LeRoy, and more…

Queen & Slim Trailer

Here is the brand new Queen & Slim trailer. The trailer gives allusions of Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma & Louise with its couple on the run premise, albeit with a very contemporary edge. The film is written by Lena Waithe, and directed by Melina Matsoukas. Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim is coming soon to cinemas.

The Irishman Trailer

Finally the trailer for one of the year’s most anticipated films is here. The Irishman sees Martin Scorsese re-team with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Additions to the cast include Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, and Anna Paquin. Written by Steve Zalillian, The Irishman is about a hitman who worked alongside some of the 20th century’s most notorious figures. The Irishman will be released in select UK cinemas and on Netflix this Autumn.

JT LeRoy Trailer

JT LeRoy tells the story of one of the literary world’s most infamous hoaxes. The film stars Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Diane Kruger, and Jim Sturgess. Directed by Justin Kelly, JT LeRoy will be released in cinemas and on Digital HD on 16th August 2019.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood Trailer

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood feels like the kind of film we need about now. The film is about Mister Rogers and his friendship with journalist Tom Junod. Directed by Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), the film stars Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is set for release in UK cinemas on 6th December 2019.

Zombieland: Double Tap Trailer

Here is the trailer for Zombieland: Double Tap. A belated sequel to the 2009 hit Zombieland, the film sees director Ruben Fleischer reunite with stars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin. Zombieland: Double Tap hits UK screens on 18th October 2019.

Film Review: One Day

One Day is a well-written romantic drama that should satisfy its audience. Whilst it fulfils the conventions of the genre with its themes, the format of the film offers something a little different.

Dexter and Emma spend night of their university graduation together; the beginning of a long and tumultuous friendship. Over the course of twenty years, Emma and Dexter are visited on the same day – 15th July. Sometimes the pair are together, sometimes they are apart…

Based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, One Day features well developed characters that are convincing. Focusing dominantly on the two protagonists allows their characters the time and space to evolve. This is intensified by the fact that the film takes place over the course of twenty years. Visiting the protagonists briefly each year allows viewers to see the changes in their personality. One Day is concerned with such a pivotal time in a person’s life (from graduation to the late 30s), that the changes in character are significant, even if appearances remain quite similar.

The year-by-year construct allows the audience to explore details of the characters’ lives for just a snapshot. The incidents that take place on this date are not always the most exciting, but they are believable. Moreover, it works well to retain the viewer’s attention. Not all the facts are made clear from the outset, so the audience must wait until detail is filled in later down the line.

The format of Lone Scherfig’s film calls for a reproduction of different periods from the last two decades or so. The most obvious way this is depicted is through styling and music. The costumes and styling are great in the movie, and are sometimes a cause for amusement. Those who are a similar age to the characters (or indeed older) will look back at the portrayal of the early nineties with a certain fondness.

The music used in One Day is integral in setting the period. The choice of songs is good, and really effective in defining the time frame. The graphics used to illustrate the date are also interesting. Attempting to place these in a different way for each year ensures some creative results.

Anne Hathaway gives a solid performance as Emma. She gives a good shot at her character’s regional accent, and is convincing in the film’s emotional moments. Jim Sturgess is also great as Dexter, while Ken Stott offers good support in a minor role.

The film can be a little syrupy, but at times is genuinely moving. One Day is a well-executed film that should do well with its intended demographic.