American Splendor / Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini (2003). I saw this film back in ’03 during its first theatrical run, but this later visit reveals that it is still delightful after 17 years. This blurring of the lines between the venerable bio-pic and a documentary will keep audiences on their toes. It follows the life of the misanthropic hospital file clerk Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti’s breakthrough role) who becomes a cultural and media hero via graphic novels he writes with major illustrators like Robert Crumb. On the spur of the moment he marries Joyce Babner (Hope Davis), a strange individual, indeed, but their marriage lasted until Pekar’s death (which didn’t come until 2010). The graphic novels he writes are based on his life in Cleveland (“Ordinary life is very complex,” he says). They include every one he knows especially his co-workers like Toby Radloff (Judah Friedlander) who is an autistic adult. During the course of the movie we also see the Real Harvey and Joyce being interviewed and he Real Toby hanging around between set-ups with Friedlander, Giamatti, and Davis). Harvey narrates most of the movie. Another innovation is Harvey’s appearances on David Letterman. We find Paul Giamatti as Harvey waiting just off camera but when his name is announced we go to an actual clip of the show for the Real Harvey’s first appearance with Letterman. This is quite a good movie which may not be thought much about any more. I hope that feeling is wrong.
Giamatti and Davis as Harvey and Joyce
The real Harvey, Joyce, and foster daughter Danielle
I don't think you fully understand, Mr. Bigelow. You've been murdered.