Revisiting an infamous literary scandal of the last decade, Jeff Feuerzeig’s documentary re-examines the many lives of Laura Albert, who was exposed as the true author of sensational bestsellers by teenage prodigy JT LeRoy.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
The seductive power of great storytelling informs every layer of this entertaining account of a major literary con. Jeremiah ‘Terminator’ LeRoy burst onto the publishing scene in the late 90s as a bestselling, gender-fluid, trailer trash prodigy. Winona Ryder counted the brilliant boy among her oldest and closest friends. Lou Reed, Courtney Love and Gus van Sant were there for him. LeRoy’s second novel, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, was adapted into a film by Asia Argento. But New York magazine’s October 2005 issue had the goods on LeRoy. Laura Albert, a 40-year-old Brooklyn woman, aka LeRoy’s kooky British manager Speedie, was exposed as the woman behind curtain; LeRoy did not in fact exist, countless public appearances notwithstanding. A lot of people were very angry, though some, less unnerved by being caught out, stood by their earlier estimation of the books. Director Jeff Feuerzeig, chronicler of another compelling outsider artist in The Devil and Daniel Johnston (NZIFF05), gives Laura Albert the stand. She’s riveting.
“It’s a maze of identity: a girl who dreams of herself as a boy who dreams of himself as a girl, played by a girl pretending to be a boy, all overseen by the girl herself, playing another, different girl… That Feuerzeig can navigate this hall of mirrors so cleanly and effectively is positively supernatural…
The resulting film is wildly entertaining and informative, but also alive and ever-changing, provoking new questions at each turn. It’s the movie this crazy, endlessly fascinating story deserves.” — Bilge Ebiri, New York