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JT Leroy (Blu-ray Review)

Based on Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy, this captivating true story goes beyond the headlines to tell the story of the most compelling literary ‘hoax’ of recent times. Laura Albert (Laura Dern) writes as her “avatar,” a disenfranchised young queer man named JT LeRoy. When her debut novel becomes a best-seller and JT becomes the darling of the literary world, she comes up with a unique solution to preserve her anonymity but give life to her nom-de-plume. Enter her boyfriend’s androgynous fun-loving sister Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart), who connects with Laura’s punk, feminist, outsider universe and agrees to be JT in the public eye. Together, they embark on a wild ride of double lives, infiltrating the Hollywood and literary elite, only to discover who they are while pretending to be someone else.

 

Film

I was not at all familiar with the subject matter contained within this Blu-ray. It’s based on a true story account of Savannah Knoop’s memoir entitled Girl Boy Girl: How I became JT Leroy. The origin of this complicates story is that of Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart) assuming the identity of “JT Leroy,” the avatar or alter-ego of writer Laura Albert (Laura Dern). Knoop enters the picture because Albert needs a real-life persona to her avatar now that her books are taking off. Albert happens to be Knoop’s brother’s sister-in-law. He’s a struggling musician and Albert is the lead singer of that band but she prefers writing and seems to be a bit more fortuitous.

Yes, I did not say that this whole thing wasn’t complicated and full of dramarama. Under Albert’s tutelage we see Knoop become “JT Leroy” under a weird-new visage. They both go to expensive and fancy lunches and dinners and eventually start meeting with producers, directors, and investors. It goes from being a snowflake into an avalanche in a short time.

Complicating things is the attention that one of Albert’s novels has received by Eva (Dian Kruger). Eva is interested in developing and directing this project but can’t seem to get the rights to the project without certain conditions. In fact, Albert is all for it, but wants to remain in control through “JT.” See, that’s the rub. Albert is the author and architect of this whole charade and Knoop is the lead character. Once JT starts to deviate from the original plan, all hell breaks loose. Oh, and nevermind the fact that JT Leroy is supposed to be a man and Knoop is not.

As I mentioned before, this was based on true events that started in the late 90’s and went into the early 2000’s. Eva is a composite character based on Asia Argento. Apparently, Asia acquired the rights to one of Albert’s novels that was presumably written by JT and eventually made it into a film herself. As drama, JT Leroy works really well. The story is fascinating and the performances are way above average. Watch out for Courtney Love looking unrecognizable, but better than she has in recent years.  JT Leroy is a train wreck in terms of subject matter. I actually wanted it to be longer, because the deception lasted for years! JT Leroy is one wacky game show.

 

Video 

Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Even with the opening scene, I knew this Blu-ray video presentation would be up to snuff. Contrast was spot on. The sharpness levels were nice and it did not look like image was tweaked around with during replication.

Depth: The depth of field on this Blu-ray was quite stellar. It’s a little low budget film but you would think that they spent a fortune. The Blu-ray presentation was fantastic.

Black Levels: I did not detect instances of crush – black levels were deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: The palette is quite bold and I appreciated the greenery that was showcased in one of the scenes taking place in France. It looked quite lovely.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looked great, I like the attention to detail in JT’s make-up – the real JT had bad skin and they also gave Kristen Stewart patchy blemishes. The Blu-ray highlights these to great effect.

Noise/Artifacts: The image was nice and clean, free of noise an artifacts.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: JT Leroy is a quaint production but is given a great audio presentation on Blu-ray. I was pleasantly surprised at how much attention to sonic detail this film was given on the Blu-ray format.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is almost like an ambient channel that compliments the rear-surround channels. It rumbles during heavy music cues and scenes taking place in cars or during plane take-offs/landings.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear-surround channels handle ambient and music cues like a champ. No complaints here.

Dialogue Reproduction: This is a dialogue driven film and those levels are stellar.

 

Extras 

None.

 

Summary 

JT Leroy was a charming little film that totally flew under my radar. I had no idea about the real-life controversy let alone that there was a feature with a nice ensemble cast. The film does dramatize and switch out some of the events but I take it was to not get sued. The video and audio on this Blu-ray are exquisite and it’s a real shame that no special features are included on the disc. I give JT Leroy a hearty recommendation.

 

JT Leroy is available on Blu-ray & DVD June 4, 2019!

ORDER NOW!

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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