Wednesday, December 01, 2004

SEE: American Splendor (2003)

I loved this movie. Very original. An artistic achievement in every aspect: writing, directing, acting, cinematography, editing, etc. I'd have to say this was the best movie of 2003 I've seen.

This is the biographical dramatization of the underground comicbook writer Harvey Pekar. Even though Harvey is often a jerk and extremely flawed, he is quite lovable. You root for the guy all the way through the film.

Harvey one day decides to write a comic book based on his own life, titling it American Splendor. His life, however, is as mundane as it gets. He works a flunkie job in the VA Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He's a bachelor until Joyce shows up in his life. How they get together is a funny story in itself.

Paul Giamatti did a truly splendid job portraying Harvey. I liked Paul's work ever since I noticed his talent in Duets. He's one of those character actors who usually does great supporting roles. The divine Hope Davis delivered a marvelous performance as Joyce, Harvey's kooky wife.

I loved the blending of fiction and real life in American Splendor. This is very appropriately done since Harvey's own life is a mishmash of art and reality. The filmmakers interview the real Harvey Pekar as one would in a documentary in different segments throughout the movie. The crossing between feature and documentary is seamless and extremely well coordinated. Also, there are animated bits sprinkled here and there. So you get to see three Harveys, the actor version, the real version, and the animated version. You'll also see a fourth version, but you have to watch it to find out.

This film proves that one can depict the ordinary, not-so-glamorous life of your average everyman into an interesting, entertaining, and thoughtful flick. Movies these days only portray fantasy, unrealistic life that audiences consume by the heapfuls as a form of escapism, I guess. Yeah, we all go to the movies to escape. But we come back a bit more brainwashed about what the movies tell us our lives should be like and we get sorely disappointed when we notice that life ain't like it is in the movies.

::5 stars::