Joe Gould's Secret (1999)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Buddy Film, Period Film  |   Release Date - Apr 7, 2000 (USA)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

Actor/director Stanley Tucci's third foray behind the camera, this labor of love about a real-life, eccentric Greenwich Village resident is overlong and could stand to heed the maxim of screenwriter William Goldman to "kill all your darlings." A pluperfect performance from star Ian Holm in one of his finest roles to date provides the narrative and emotional spine of Joe Gould's Secret, but Tucci unwisely focuses nearly as much screen time on the character he himself portrays, magazine editor Joseph Mitchell. Subplots that journey into Mitchell's personal and professional life are unnecessary and greatly detract from the story's main focus -- Joe Gould and his relationship with Mitchell (and the city of New York). Holm is a revelation as Gould, a vivid portrait of a man composed layer by layer of psychosis, genius, nervous tics, need, and self-deception, his staccato, rapid-fire monologues cast a spell of dazed incredulity on the listener. However witty, urbane, and sharply observed, Tucci's film is somewhat frustrating and unsatisfying, going down too many narrative sidetracks until its power has been diluted.