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"JT Leroy" Movie Review

Updated on December 17, 2021
Alec Zander profile image

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.

Have you ever told a lie that got out of control? Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in the fantasy of your own lie that you became addicted to it and didn't want to stop? Or couldn't stop? That's the epitome of the story behind the elusive JT Leroy.

The film follows Laura Albert, an accomplished song lyric writer and author who used the pseudonym JT Leroy. As more and more interviewers call wanting to meet with who they believe is a man, Laura becomes desperate. She convinces her sister-in-law Savannah Knoop to go undercover as JT Leroy for the public. As the fame grows, the lie gets bigger, and things start getting complicated in their lives both public and private.

The film's opening contains a quote from Oscar Wilde which sets the stage for what's to come: "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." Those eight words cut deep and are profoundly true, especially where the controversy surrounding author J.T. Leroy is concerned.

I loved all of the performances. Kristen Stewart continues to grow as an actress and delivers with every film. Laura Dern was probably the most convincing out of the main three women of the film, using her natural charisma and experience to give her role the level of humanity it deserved. I always enjoy seeing Diane Kruger in films. She always puts everything she has into every scene she has. It's amazing her level of commitment. From the heartbreaking In the Fade to the comically dramatic Inglourious Basterds to the substantial JT Leroy, she nails every part.

The story flowed well and unfolded perfectly. It was actually co-written by the real Savannah Knoop, based on Savannah's autobiography. Justin Kelly, the other co-writer and the director, was able to delve into both Laura and Savannah's lives and keep us invested in both people. The only negative I saw was that there was a lack of emotionally gripping content. There were so many opportunities where we could have and should have been empathizing with the characters but instead it was more like an audiobook in the car. You hear it, understand it, and even learn from it, but it's hard to grasp it emotionally.

In conclusion, the film has fantastic performances and an intriguing plot, but it's rarely gripping. That's not to say it's bad in any way, I just feel the envelope could have been pushed a bit further to really get the ultimate message across. I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.

© 2019 Nathan Jasper


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