The documentary directing team of Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman makes their narrative feature debut with the biographical comedy drama American Splendor. Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) is a comic book writer inspired by the work of his friend Robert Crumb (James Urbaniak). Pekar writes his comics about the sad monotony of everyday life, based on his own life in Cleveland, OH, working as a file clerk at a veteran's hospital and spending his time reading books and listening to jazz. He meets up with Joyce Brabner (Hope Davis) and they enjoy a depressive relationship together. The filmmakers employ a combination of live-action film, video, and animation, including narration and commentary from the real-life Harvey Pekar. The screenplay was based on Pekar's comic book series American Splendor, which he has been writing since 1976 on Dark Horse Comics, and the 1994 book-length comic Our Cancer Year, written by Pekar and Brabner. American Splendor won the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi
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Unique, fun mix of documentary, animation and performance. The true story of Harvey Pekar, misanthropic file clerk and comic book fan, who got the brilliant idea to turn his everyday ttrials into a comic book. Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, both terrific, play the real life Harvey and his off-beat mate, while occasionally the real Harvey comments on it all (âthis guy you got playinâ me...') in narration, or on camera. Like the comic, the film plays with levels of reality, goes further. Thereâs the real Harvey, his lightly fictionalized counter-part from the cartoons, and the two actors, who seem to be playing a combination of both. Wonderfully funny but also touching and human, raising all sorts of questions about what is truth in storytelling and in life. Are our own accounts of our lives true? It leaves you smiling, thoughtful and touched at the dignity and insight of normal people, a big part of Pekarâs seemingly grumpy point. A lovely film that creates its own rules.