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by Susan Royal

American Splendor – Grand Jury prize-winner at this year’s Sundance – stars Paul Giammatti as Harvey Pekar, perhaps known to most as the troubled and ill-tempered comic book creator who made some memorable appearances on “David Letterman” before wearing out his welcome in the late 1980s. Giammatti and co-writer/directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini have created a moving portrait of a tormented soul as he documents (via his comic books) the pressures of his ordinary life as a file clerk in a VA hospital. Why is his seemingly uninteresting life worth inspecting in detail? His theory is, “Everyday life is pretty complex stuff.” You may find yourself agreeing as you root for this pathetic grump as he stumbles along and occasionally triumphs. The film is made even better by the presence of Hope Davis as Harvey’s wife Joyce. Don’t miss it.

American Splendor is now playing in Los Angeles exclusively at Laemmele’s Sunset 5 and Laemmele’s Monica theatres.

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