American Splendor ★★★½ 2003 (R)
Giamatti is brilliant as Harvey Pekar, a life-long file clerk in Cleveland who authored the R. Crumb-illustrated autobiographical graphic novels of the film's title. The unlikely courtship of misfits Pekar and his third wife Joyce Brabner (Davis) is comically portrayed as the two kindred souls mysteriously come together. Their unlikely romance mirrors the unlikelihood that a comic filled with the pessimism, cynicism, and wry comic observations of Pekar's admitted humdrum life would somehow translate just as well onto the big screen. But it does. Documentarian directors Berman and Pulcini weave fiction with fact as the real Pekar narrates and cameos. They also make use of illustrated comic segments and footage from Pekar's frequent appearances on David Letterman's show. 101m/C VHS, DVD . US Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, Earl Billings, James Urbaniak, Judah Friedlander, Donal Logue, Molly Shannon, James McCaffrey, Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini; D: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini; W: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini; C: Terry Stacey; M: Mark Suozzo. L.A. Film Critics '03: Film, Screenplay; N.Y. Film Critics '03: Actress (Davis); Natl. Soc. Film Critics '03: Film, Screenplay; Writers Guild '03: Adapt. Screenplay.