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JT LeRoy


Stars: Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Diane Kruger, Jim Sturgess, James Jagger, Courtney Love

Director: Justin Kelly

This is one of those stories that you would find it tough to believe were it not based on fact. Author Laura Albert (Dern, giving one of her non-stop performances) writes a rites-of-passage best-seller about an abusive childhood under the pen name JT LeRoy. 'I was sad,' she confesses later in the film, 'because I couldn't give JT the body he wanted'.

You'd think if Albert were to hire someone to pose as JT LeRoy, which seems odd in itself, that she'd choose a young man. But no - she asks her sister-in-law Savannah Knoop (an understandably mumbling Stewart) to adopt male disguise and play the part. The real-life Knoop does at least have a mannish face. Alas, poor Stewart is quite short and quite curvy, and it's obvious to anyone, even sporting giant shades, that she's a girl.

And so the rest of this slow-moving and difficult-to-watch film concerns itself with endless and seemingly successful attempts to pull the wool over almost everyone's eyes, complete with 'JT' only muttering a few low-pitched words on public appearances.

Poor Jim Sturgess (whatever happened to his star career?), as Albert's husband, is in the film barely more than Jagger (Mick's son), who has a brief cameo. Sturgess is at least less annoying than the two stars, with Dern so hyper and Stewart playing her role as if on tranquillisers.

'Don't you think this is ridiculous?' her character asks at one point. And it is, Kristen, it is.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Signature. Colour (unspecified).
109 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 13 Aug 2019