Joe Gould's Secret

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Stanley Tucci
Writer:Howard Rodman
USA Films/October Films; R; 108 minutes
Cast:Sir Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis

Joe Gould's Secret comes as a welcome change after Stanley Tucci's previous film, a flatfooted slapschtick comedy called The Imposters. The New Yorker readers form the target audience of Joe Gould's Secret, for it was in the magazine where the world first learned about the real-life eccentric of the title. Joe Mitchell's (Stanley Tucci) article brought the homeless visionary, Harvard-graduate, and rusty curmudgeon into local fame. It also bolstered Mitchell's reporterly rep. Not only did Mitchell bring Gould to light, but he also found himself in an unusual relationship with the old man.

Tucci's direction dwells on 1940's Greenwich Village with bohemian romanticism. Gould lived off the kindness of admirers, snagged between a bizarre novelty and a legitimate visionary. Sir Ian Holm plays Gould to the hilt, by turns eloquent and unstable. Tucci fences himself in somewhat, over-internalizing his film's evocative nostalgia.

Primarily a movie about relationships entrenched in an era, Joe Gould's legendary tome "Oral History of the World" lies thick in the plot. He claimed it to be the century's great literary work, an erudite mix of conversation, essay, philosophy, and the city's unconscious. He refused to show it to anyone, including Mitchell. This little film is fine, evoking an enigma with style and care.

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