JT LEROY, a curiosity that Universal brings to screens, is director Justin Kelly’s trippy star-studded film adaptation of Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy, based on her experience at the center of a wild, wacky hoax, which during the early 2000s, ensnared gullible celebs, literary types and civilians.
A dream team trio of acting greats — Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart and Diane Kruger —power perp Knoop's nutty memoir adaptation (co-written with Kelly) of her nutty adventure at the center of a real-life hoax involving Brooklyn-born San Francisco-based artiste-arriviste Laura Albert (Dern), who penned a pseudo-biography/alleged “recovery” “memoir” (pardon the quotes, question marks, elongated adjectives/nouns and confusion) of apocryphal teen street punk/hustler JT Leroy who served as Laura’s “avatar” for her book and its pseudo subject (or something like that). As if propelled by a cocaine/amphetemine/ego-fired ambition, Laura annoints her clueless real-life young sister-in-law Savannah (Stewart), who has landed from the boonies on her and her husband Geoff’s (Jim Sturgess) doorstep to tour with her as the mysterously androgenous, faux darling sensation JT. Done deal and a star is born (it’s a boy! it’s a girl?), helped by plenty of real-life bold faces (soon to be red) who swallowed this bunk (along with some pills?). The scamming Laura-Savannah duo are on a roll (Hollywood wants this “memoir”!). As they so the con-con, a challenge arrives by way of the opportunistic Euro-trash film bright light Eva (Kruger), super eager to work with the new whiz kid/cult hero JT. Like most sychophants, Eva slips into seduction mode and speed dials JT to have her cinematic and naughty way with him, uh, her? A smitten JT (Savannah is no genius) takes this call.
As the feverish airhead scheme-meister Laura, Dern electrifies in a near-toxic, hypnotic fusion of manic 60s flower children on speed, an even more energized 60s/70s Grace Slick, and name-yer-hyper-self-involved motor-mouth wannabe of today.
A hipper than hip supporting cast, including Courtney Love, who was a real JT follower and aptly plays a fawning rich L.A. social climber, and James Jagger (yes, His son), add to the bling.
A timely film about liars and scammers enabled by the often powerful but inscrutably suckered, ringing all too familiar as this dynamic dovetails perfectly to help clarify today’s money-grubbing, morally-poisoned, politically-ossified world.
Are there viewers anywhere on the planet who wouldn’t want to see some flashy locations (Cannes at Fest time, etc.) or Stewart and Kruger neck? And even pay for it?
Justin Kelly’s lively directing and editing give viewers little time for doubts about the nonsense his antagonists are perpetrating. But some may detect too much inextinguishable femininity in Stewart's androgens JT, in spite of his/her muted voice and guarded look.