An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.
I have never read any of Pekar's comics and, to be honest, have little interest in the world of comics because I am consistently put off by the price of them for what you get (I'm a Batman fan but local prices for very thin comics are too high for me to start it as a habit). Despite this I was attracted to this film by it being different and offering me an interesting choice of leading man in Giamatti, but, given the very non-blockbuster appeal of the film, it was barely had any time in my local cinema and I missed it there and had to catch it on DVD. When I sat to watch it I was immediately taken in by the design of the film the comic book opening and, more importantly, the narration and candid footage of the real Pekar (and others). This gives the film a much more interesting appeal because, although we don't know him, we get the total feeling that this is a real person we are seeing and indeed he is.
Not having read the comic itself I can only go off what the film and other reviewers have told me they are like and, from that understanding, I feel that the film is stronger for having basically the same strengths as the comic. That is to say, it is very down to earth and gritty, without sparkling scenes or flowery dialogue but with a simple wit to the weird collection of characters. This warts and all presentation is moved forward by a pretty good narration from Pekar but the ultimate strength of the film is its collection of characters like the comic, they are the story of Pekar's life and they are the heart of the film. It is hard to describe but the collection of bitterness, psychosis's, nerds and other weirdoes makes for a good film that is interesting, humorous and, most effectively, true.
Giamatti is not leading man material but here he shows that he is more that the comic relief and he delivers a really good performance throughout not even letting the presence of the real Pekar put him off his stride. Pekar himself is also good very easy to listen to but also unhappy and not the sort of person you talk to at work. The support cast is also pretty strong and features all manner of minor characters that make the film add up to greater than the sum of its parts. Like I said, it is hard to pigeonhole this film and the cast but it seems to work and even people who have never heard of Pekar (ie me) will be able to enjoy it.
Overall a very different film about a strange little man who managed to get much more success than he ever though possible but yet never let it change his unhappy and normal ways. It is amusing, cleverly structured and populated with ordinary weirdoes who make it fun to watch. Kudo to the director for getting the uninitiated into the film with such ease and managing to produce a film that is surprisingly weird to find in a multiplex but one that is strangely accessible to most people.
- bob the moo
- Jul 30, 2004