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Author: The JT LeRoy Story (Written Review & Trailer)

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Review by John Delia

This wild and wacky documentary on the life of author Laura Albert, Author: The JT LeRoy Story, gets complicated, showy, impudent and irreverent and that just the first half. But, that’s the beauty of this offbeat, nonsensical biography told by Laura Albert herself. Unless you travel in book writing circles, you may not know the celebrity of the writer who earned her fame using multiple impostors and through a stroke of luck. In fact, she’s even accused of a mental multiple personality disorder in her quest to pull off one of the biggest hoax’s in the literary business.

This life story becomes so undeniably erratic, mind boggling yet amusingly incredible that you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Mesmerized by the often pleading Laura Albert that what the camera brings to the screen shows the result of a less than adequate upbringing. She explains that many pitfalls affected her reasoning that led to choose anonymity rather than expose herself. She denies any mental illness, especially multiple personality disorder, for her actions. Yet, unless her intentions were just whims, it’s very hard to think otherwise.

Savannah Knoop and Laura Albert in AUTHOR THE JT LEROY STORY

Savannah Knoop and Laura Albert in AUTHOR THE JT LEROY STORY

The film contains a plethora of archival film and photos from her childhood right up to the revelation of her dishonesty in 2005 at the age of approximately 25. In the beginning of her rise to fame Laura writes the novel “Sarah” then claims to be a 21-year-old male named Jeramiah “Terminator” LeRoy or JT LeRoy. The pseudo writer claims to have been turning sexual tricks on the street for a living. Quickly arousing the book community the novel becomes a big seller leading us to the “rest of the story”.

Savannah Knoop and Bono in AUTHOR THE JT LEROY STORY

Savannah Knoop and Bono in AUTHOR THE JT LEROY STORY

To go on and on about the film will do it complete injustice, although the doc could have been much better had it been condensed down to about an hour and a half. Instead of a documentary in which she defends her position, a fictional account played out by actors would have been a lot more fun to watch. Especially if the writer dished up a lot of dirt the real movie stars and directors that were duped by Laura Albert. Just saying.

1I do like the sequences in which animation is used to show the fiction within her books to get a little taste of her writing. Surprisingly the archival film footage is quite crisp leading me to believe the Laura had a camera guy follow her around in hopes of someday making a documentary. Even the shots of her on stage singing look a little staged and video from the past are “lucky” finds especially since her father had left the family when Laura was a child questioning who would have shot them. These are just observations having no inside knowledge of the production other than press notes.

Author: The JT LeRoy Story has been rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, sexual content, some drug material and violent images.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A wacky extreme documentary that may be as unreliable at its subject. (C+)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Laura Albert (as Speedie, Terminator, Emily Frasier, and herself), Savannah Knoop (as JT LeRoy), Joanna Albert (her sister and as Laura Albert), Geoffrey Knoop (her boyfriend and Astor her “boyfriend”) Sarah Albert (her mother), Ira Silverberg (her agent), Director Gus Van Sant, Actor Michael Pitt, Actress Wynona Ryder, Actress Asia Argento, and many more
Directed and written by: Jeff Feuerzeig
Genre: Documentary
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content, some drug material and violent images
Running Time: 2 hrs. 30 min.
Release Date: September 23, 2016
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

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