I've sat on this review for an awfully long time. Don't let anyone tell you that procrastination never pays off.
I saw The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things a year ago, at the 2005 SXSW Film Festival; by that point, it had already been on the festival circuit for almost a year. It was picked up by Palm Pictures for North American distribution at Cannes in 2005, exactly one year after its world premiere. At some point, it was possibly worth asking why writer/director/shameless showboat Asia Argento had so much trouble getting her splashily filmed, star-studded translation of name-brand memoirist J.T. Leroy's short stories into theaters. At this point, now that Leroy has been unmasked as the brainchild of three middle-aged wannabes, it's easy to close the case with a two-part answer: 1) the film is terrible, and 2) it is, in fact, so bad, that without a New York Times-endorsed scandal for Palm to latch its marketing campaign on to, its release would be damn near impossible. Oddly, now that it's able to hide behind the mask of Leroy's unmasking, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things gets to wear a certain kind of cachet; a literary scandal has a funny way of making what's actually been burned onto the celluloid seem a little less unconscionable.
So let's talk about that scandal. It's much more interesting than anything in Argento's film.