Unshakable, witty and deeply felt, the film will be paying emotional dividends for a long, long time.
There are moments in this movie where the great movie it could've been peek out... They're fleeting, here, but they're worth savoring, and they happen often enough to make it worth your while.
It is an exhilarating, distressing, funny and profound film, with one of the more memorable film scores in years,
The cat is out of the bag. We finally meet the woman behind the creation of literary genius JT Leroy. This movie delves into the truth of Laura Albert, and it is surprising. She didn't intend to hurt people, but her creation, JT Leroy went from nom de plume to real life boy. And now we hear from Laura herself, apologetic yet unabashed. She reveals the behind the scenes of the New York Bestselling author that swept through the publishing world and became a well known, all while Laura watched from the sidelines watching the praise and acknowledgement get showered on her creation.
But it all came crashing down and here we have the aftermath. This movie is fascinating and candid. The emotions are real. This is an important documentary that touches on things like identity, acceptance, betrayal, and finally the unmasking of the true genius behind the books, and the creation of JT Leroy.
I'll make this short but sweet.A forty-year old straight woman wrote a couple of wonderful and beloved works of fiction.She was subsequently accused of "manipulating the system" by posing as a young, gay male.The fact is, those much beloved books probably never would have seen the light of day had she not take the route that she did.And as a writer, that makes me madder than anything.
Laura Albert was abused as a child. As an adult, she started to write: fiction, but intensely personal fiction, informed by her past. Her voice, as a writer, was that of a young (gender-uncertain) man. But far from this voice being an intellectual creation, her character was almost an alternative personality, a being through whom she channelled a part of her self that she couldn't reach any other way. One could Laura had a gift for a form of role-play that had very little to do with play (J.T. Leroy was not the only persona who she could adopt more or less at will but with an almost uncontrollable conviction). When she published, she did so under the J.T. Leroy name. And she used that character's biography as a lever to attract interest in the stories he was telling. It's odd, fiction is fiction, but as the audience we like it if we feel it is based on personal experience. And J.T. was the author who just might have written Albert's novels, although the irony is that the books were still deeply personal, albeit less obviously than if J.T. had actually existed and written them himself.Then the story gets really weird. The books are a hit; the media wants to see J.T.; Laura persuades a (female) relative to act as J.T. in public, while she herself adopts another guise as J.T.'s manager. J.T. becomes famous, a friend to countless celebrities. Then eventually, the truth gets out and in the end, Albert is sued for fraud.It's an amazing story, relayed in this film. Less interesting than the "is it fraud?" aspect is Albert's amazing ability to sustain multiple identities, and what's sad is the story of personal trauma that might have caused this to be. It's also interesting to see the way that our culture needs to make events out of things, that instead of simply judging what only ever claimed to be fiction on its merits, it's the media's obsession with the character of the author that makes Albert's deceptions a public phenomenon (although, to be fair, this is also what enables Albert to sell so many books and to meet so many famous people). The film definitely is Albert's telling of her story, and her self-evident skill in manipulating reality means one has to watch it with a measure of caution; but for the most part it rings true, a fascinating yet in places disturbing tale of life and art intermingling.
The subject of the film was very interesting but I became increasingly annoyed by the directors showing off. "I felt I was underwater' cut to footage shot underwater. 'I felt I was in a movie', cut to footage imitating a b movie, the director felt the need to underline everything as if the viewer could not imagine for themselves. Words were repeatedly scrawled over the image accompanied by an effect, OK for a while but it repeatedly became a stylistic tic. Tiresome. A shame because the subject was fascinating, It would have been better if the animations were in ironic counterpoint not simply illustrative. There were also many, many shots of telephones.