American Splendor

There are lots of movies about famous people, and lots of movies about poor people, but I think American Splendor may be the only movie about a poor person who is famous, or at least about a real poor person who is actually famous and who worked as a file clerk and comic book writer and lived in Cleveland and in the movie is played both by an actor and by himself. An incredibly engaging mix of documentary and docu-drama and also plain-old drama and some comedy, plus opera, American Splendor tells the story of Harvey Pekar, low-rent comic book writer and Cleveland area file clerk. Paul Giamatti plays Pekar with a perfection that’s revealed when Pekar himself enters the film to provide narration and commentary. As the film moves back and forth between documentary and dramatic re-enactment, the humanity and reality of the characters is almost infinitely enhanced. It’s heartwarming without being sappy and artful without being pretentious.

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