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TIFF 2018 Review: “Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy” (2018)★★★


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I’ve never heard of the JT LeRoy Saga nor what unfolded behind the scenes. Hence, I may not be able to judge whether the dramatizaton of the movie, “Jeremiah Terminataor LeRoy”, directed by Justin Kelly is authentic or not. But to be honest, we should never judge or criticize the director’s choice, as it’s him who should always decide what to tell and how to tell it, so that it properly fits into the narrative.

Laura Dern’s Laura is a critically acclaimed writer whose novel, “Sarah” is based, presumably, on her life when she was young and has also been in the New York Times’ best selling books chart. But she was published as JT. When a big magazine calls her for an interview, she sends Savannah, her friend instead, dressed up like a man. Unlimited number of offers starts pouring her way until the moment when Savannah/JT falls for Eva, the woman who portrays JT’s mother in the film adaptation.

Laura Dern, as usual, was phenomenal as a struggling artist who does not like, understandably, the public life. But Kristen Stewart is the one who drives the entire film. She literally steps into the shoes of multiple characters, and in the meantime, struggles with her own identity when she develops a crush on the beautiful Eva (Diane Kruger). Savannah is already in a relationship with Sean who seems to love her. But every time she is on a trip to play the role of JT, she returns home with a broken heart. That’s why there was no other actress who would’ve been able to portray or understand JT the same way Kristen Stewart did.

Justin Kelly has also brought tons of humor to the film, so the viewer can have an enjoyable ride. However, that humor will quickly disappear when you start caring for the characters as if they were one of your own, as joy turns into sadness and you begin worrying about Savannah and her mental stability more often than you may anticipate. That said, “Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy” is a fun movie to watch and at times even deeply moving, which is the main reason why you should not miss it at all.

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