TIFF18: Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy

The true story of cult literary icon J.T. LeRoy is told in Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy. Laura Albert (Laura Dern) is a musician and writer, who wrote the autobiographical novel “Sarah,” under the pseudonym of a 19 year old boy named Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy. While Laura frequently does phone interviews as J.T., the constant request for pubic appearances results in Laura asking her sister-in-law Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart) to become the public face of J.T. LeRoy. However, the line between fiction and reality seriously begins to blur when J.T.’s book is optioned as a film and Savannah begins to fall for the lead actress Eva (Diane Kruger).

A stranger-than-fiction true story becomes just fiction in this biopic about J.T. LeRoy, based upon the memoir by Savannah Knoop. This story has been previously told in at least two documentaries, with me having previously seen The Cult of J.T. LeRoy back in 2015. However, probably the big differential between Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy and the previous documentaries is how this film primarily focuses on Savannah Knoop’s side of the story and how she came to be recruited by Laura Albert to don a blonde wig and become J.T. LeRoy.

Whenever a film is made based on true events, the question has to be asked whether it is better to just watch a documentary? In the case of Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, I would say that the answer is yes. That said, I do have to say that Kristen Stewart does give a decent lead performance as Savannah Knoop and how having to portray J.T. LeRoy caused strain on her personal life. On the flipside, Laura Dern is perhaps a bit too obnoxious as Laura Albert and it’s hard to really root for her. Overall, Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy is ultimately a biopic that is just fine.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).