True Story


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo — who has taken on Finkel’s identity — his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit, and redemption.
"Something happens in the courtroom that puts a hammer to the spanner" | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Made with conviction this based-on-real-events investigative journalistic probe into manipulation and murder leaves the audience in a state of confusion. What's the point?

This is not a good question to be asking when the opening section is all about feature writer Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) being sacked from The New York Times and attempting (failing) to stay in the game.

Copy picture

When Christian Longo (James Franco) is arrested for killing his wife and children, he has been calling himself Michael Finkel, in respect, he says, for the man's talent. The genuine Finkel picks up on this and sees the Longo story as his way back. Forget about writing a magazine piece; this will make a book.

The journo and the psycho meet regularly in jail. Finkel builds a picture of an intelligent, caring father and husband being framed for a murder he did not commit. It's a classic justice malfunction scenario. All Finkel has to do is put the pieces in the correct order and those doggone wrongs will be righted.

Three cheers for freedom of speech and one man's dedication to the truth. Where would we be without...

Hang on a purty minute! Something happens in the courtroom that puts a hammer to the spanner. Suddenly Finkel feels betrayed (again). The sky falls. He chokes on self pity.

And the film dies.

Hill and Franco are Seth Rogan's funny buds. They made the anarchic L.A. apocalypse caper, This Is The End, together. With the exception of Moneyball with Brad and The Wolf Of Wall Street with Leo, Hill likes to play the fool. Not here. This time he's riding bareback. And he's doing a good job.

Franco was the next big thing after the Spidey movies and amputating an arm in 127 Hours. But then he went AWOL with Rogan, ending in the North Korean satire, The Interview, which wet a few pants in Washington.

Now he's back, charming and a little sinister. Feels like old times.

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2015
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True Story packshot
A disgraced reporter gets involved in a cat and mouse game with an accused killer.
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Director: Rupert Goold

Writer: Rupert Goold, David Kajganich, based on the book by Michael Finkel

Starring: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones, Maria Dizzia, Conor Kikot, Charlotte Driscoll, Stella Rae Payne, Robert John Burke, Byron Jennings, Gretchen Mol

Year: 2015

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Sundance 2015

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