American Splendor

American Splendor

(2003)

Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.

An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar in this Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film starring Paul Giamatti (SidewaysSaving Private Ryan).... More

Working a menial position at a hospital in his hometown of Cleveland, Pekar struggles daily to enrich his life by filling his free time with reading, writing, listening to jazz, and engaging in cerebral banter. When his buddy Robert Crumb earns wide acclaim for comic art, Harvey is inspired to write his own brand of comic books. American Splendor is hugely successful, but Harvey still finds his life lacking. Enter the equally depressive Joyce Brabner (Hope Davis), and united in co-dependence, the pair tackles life together.

Documentarian director duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's first foray into narrative film sees them intertwine fictional portrayals and real life appearances by Pekar and Brabner using an unorthodox combination of film, video and animation which won the pair the FIPRESCI Prize at Sundance Festival 2003.Hide

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The Press Reviews

94% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Giamatti looks nothing like Pekar either in person or in his various cartoon guises, but in a warmly sympathetic performance he brings the character to grubby, soulful life. Full Review

  • The two documentarians in their feature debut hit an unbelievably rich vein of drama, humor, love, whimsy, psychological turmoil, commonplace travails, genuine trauma and artistic triumph. Full Review

  • It's a profound tribute to lives lived on the fringes of society -- to the introspective loners who are the most observant chroniclers of our times. Full Review