American Splendor | Chicago Reader

American Splendor

I can't say that this feature by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, about the life and art of Harvey Pekar, made me want to run out and buy his comic books, but it does offer a highly interesting and original introduction to them. Roughly a third of the picture is “documentary,” with Pekar narrating his own story, most of it based in Cleveland, and periodically appearing in a film studio with some of the major people in his life. Another third is “fiction,” with Paul Giamatti as Pekar, Hope Davis as his partner Joyce Brabner, and James Urbaniak as a young Robert Crumb. The final third approximates and fitfully animates the ongoing “true-life” comic book written by Pekar and illustrated by various graphic artists, including Crumb. But because these parts tend to overlap as well as alternate, we're constantly kept on our toes regarding issues of representation while Pekar's sour but indefatigible working-class skepticism carries us along. R, 101 min.


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