#24 – American Splendor
Director: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.”
I find it very intriguing that a movie about ordinary people can be so un-ordinary as a movie… Its funny to think that the ordinary movies we see, are typically about something un-ordinary happening, or some kind of un-ordinary people – or even ordinary people in an un-ordinary situation. American Splendor is about an ordinary man in ordinary situations, don’t get me wrong, Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) is anything but ordinary, but then again, who is? – He is only un-ordinary compared to the characters you usually see in movies – compared to people in the real world, I guess he is pretty ordinary. Harvey is a comic book writer, he writes about the trivial events in his normal life, and people love it. Border lining between fiction and reality, this feature film/documentary is an original piece of work, and tells about getting through life, and dealing with the dirt that’s thrown in the machine along the way. Now this movie is based on the comics Harvey writes in the film, and I must admit that I have never seen or read these comics, but I don’t think that matters at all. This movie stands alone very well, and I think everybody could get something out of it. The structure is a mishmash of lots of different styles and methods, and they all weave together nicely. It jumps in time, it breaks the forth wall, it shows interviews with real people, it has animation bits in it, and so on and so on. But it all seams quite true to the format the comic book had, as many different drawers drew Pekar’s stories, and they all had their own style – so I guess if you were a American Splendor comic fan, you would be use to seeing all these different lines and styles, in that way the movies stays true to the comic. Paul Giamatti (as always) gives a fantastic performance that really kicked his career into the next level. He is on of those actors that really get inside the head of the role, and you forget you are watching acting at all. This is a rare thing, and not many actors have this ability. He works it to perfection – and you are very aware of what the real Pekar is like, since he also is in the film as himself. A bio-pic about a cynic man who deals with life in his own sarcastic and funny way. Even though it does get a bit tedious and dull at times, you somehow live with it (as Pekar does in his own life), and the feeling of being captivated by boredom in ordinary life is very unusual, and suits the movies theme very well.