Starring Jonah Hill and James Franco, True Story sounds like another hilarious comedy. Based on true events and a subsequent memoir written by Michael Finkel, it lies somewhere between drama and thriller. Probably leaning more toward drama because of the pace and overall vibe. Both Jonah and James were great giving convincing performances along with Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Hysteria). I especially must single out James Franco as I didn’t expect this good of a performance from him. Probably because I’ve seen him mostly in comedies and action movies.
The atmosphere is suspenseful and you keep waiting for the next scene to provide you with some answers. Moreover, it makes you anxiously await the scene, trying to piece together what’s the story behind the story. This is a psychological and character-driven thriller with a bit slower pacing. The fact that the story portrayed here is mostly true to what actually happened only amplifies all the other features. There’s also the journalistic aspect of this story exploring the morality of a “killer story”.
Meet Michael Finkel an ambitious and successful reporter who will do anything for The Story. After some problems with his latest piece, he withdraws to his house in Montana, where his wife Jill lives. Also, meet Christian Longo, a man whose entire family has been found dead in Oregon. Who would think that these two have something in common…
True Story is exactly what it says it is, a true story about an unlikely friendship between a disgraced journalist and a convict. And, as with life itself, this story doesn’t end with some epic conclusions and lessons. On the other hand, it offers a view into the minds of two men and the bond between them, intertwined with their desires and failures. Also, it leaves room for your own analysis, staying in the backseat for the most part. This means you will have to do almost all of the heavy lifting here, so just be prepared for that.
Finally, let us talk about the build-up. I wasn’t sure if should I warn you about the lack of conclusion with this movie, but I did it anyways. I felt a bit cheated at the end because the movie was set up like it was going to explain everything neatly in the end. And it did to some extent. Just not in a manner and volume that we are used to seeing in similar mystery movies. It’s like they went all-in on the character development and then forgot all about the main story.
Still, with a runtime of just over ninety minutes, I think that True Story is a movie worth watching. Especially if you’re a true crime fan who loves learning more about these stories. This one reminded me of Chris Watts, a man just as stupid as he is evil who killed his wife and two daughters a couple of years ago. There are a couple of documentaries about him up on YouTube, so might want to check them out too.
Director: Rupert Goold
Writer: Rupert Goold, David Kajganich, Michael Finkel
Cast: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones, Maria Dizzia, Ethan Suplee, Gretchen Mol