American Splendor : Movie Review

American Splendor (2003) - Movie PosterAmerican Splendor is the quasi-biography of Harvey Pekar a hospital file clerk turned comic book writer whose inexorably pessimistic outlook upon life viewers may have difficulty relating to.

It’s often almost unbearable viewing so loathsome is the character of Harvey Pekar.

So suppressed is the film’s humour by Pekar’s bitterness that audiences may find it almost completely inaccessible. Of course having watched this film you might feel satisfactorily rewarded, believing yourself to have unearthed a rare gem, as it certainly isn’t your average film.

However as the film ended I personally couldn’t help but feel that Pekar had lead, quite simply, a rather depressing life. And that this rather miserable life should never have been immortalised on celluloid, as it might only serve to depress those who watch it.

However on a genuinely positive note Paul Giamatti’s performance appears to capture Pekar’s character tremendously and Hope Davis’ performance is excellent too.

The real-life footage of Pekar on The Tonight Show with David Letterman is also a welcome distraction from the drudgery of the reminder of the film, but this is small consolation.

Giamatti’s performances in Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes and Milo Foreman’s Man On The Moon, the Andy Kaufman biopic, were irresistible.

American Splendor was his chance to carry an entire movie. He does so with some style, proving his credentials as a fine character actor and I certainly hope we see more from him in the future.

2 stars out of 5

Author : Kevin Stanley