Scroll To Top

Above all, awful

Above all, awful


Asia Argento's adaptation of JT LeRoy's The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things was already a wallow in the muck; now that we know LeRoy's a phony, the movie is flat-out reprehensible

Part of the massive fallout behind the revelation that abused teen runaway turned literary star JT LeRoy is actually a pushing-40 woman named Laura Albert is the theatrical release of The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, opening March 10 in select markets, based on LeRoy's "autobiographical" book of short stories. The movie is a long slog through a horrifying America made up of meth addicts, Bible-thumpers, and mommies who look disconcertingly like Courtney Love, but at least--when the film could still be marketed as a semimemoir--audiences could feel better about the fact that LeRoy had survived this hellish childhood and made a name for himself as an author.

But now that we know that LeRoy is a chimera created by a writer with equal gifts for fiction and fraud, Deceitful is a vile cesspit of a film with no redeeming qualities at all. It's one of those icky movies about the United States that certain kinds of Europeans like to make--imagine Werner Herzog's Stroszek with none of the artistry--that makes you feel like a terrier is pushing your nose into the mess he just left on the kitchen floor. One suspects that cowriter-director Asia Argento was in on the LeRoy hoax, as she at one point claimed to be carrying JT's baby, but we'll have to let history (or New York magazine) sort that one out.

Argento plays the mommy-from-hell here, so naturally the script has to do backward somersaults to explain why this white-trash harridan happens to have an Italian accent. But the movie is really about poor Jeremiah, taken away from loving foster parents and given over to Sarah, a drug-abusing disaster of a woman. When things get too terrible, the kid gets remanded to Sarah's parents, fire-and-brimstone Christians played by Peter Fonda and Ornella Muti.

Basically, he can't win either way. So what you get for 90 minutes is people doing drugs and abusing a child, or people being humorless scripture-quoting zombies and abusing a child. Fun!

Because of LeRoy's moment of prestige, Argento has quite the cast of hipster A-listers, including Winona Ryder (whose performance couldn't be more condescending), Marilyn Manson, Ben Foster, Jeremy Sisto, and Lydia Lunch. At one point in the film, my friend Aaron leaned over and noted, "I'm just waiting for Michael Pitt to show up." And, of course, Pitt eventually does. Because it's an indie movie law that he turn up in this kind of movie, preferably playing someone mentally challenged and covered in mucus. Pitt is talented, but he needs to mix it up a bit. And he deserves better than this movie.

As do audiences. Spare yourself.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Alonso Duralde