James Franco and Jonah Hill scrap the laughs for drama.
From the start, True Story fudges its facts and ironically adds tension to the unknowable. Here’s the plot: Michael Finkel (Hill) a New York Times journalist is fired for twisting facts in his story about child slavery in Africa. After being dismissed, Finkel decides to revive his career and reputation by writing a book based on his jail interviews with Christian Longo (Franco). Longo is accused of murdering his wife and three children. Oddly enough, while on the run in Mexico Longo identifies himself as Finkel.
Maybe from these interviews both Finkel and Longo can find a silver lining to their sins of the past. While at first it was hard seeing Franco and Hill in the same room together without being funny, the tone quickly turned stern. I kept anticipating Seth Rogen to pop in and make a guest appearance, thankfully that didn’t happen. Once you established your serious face and let it all sink in, Franco and Hill added a sense of paranoia to the story. So far, director Rupert Goold kept his film factual, but his story takes many unknown turns ahead down the road. Finkel’s book takes its own liberties and his wife (Felicity Jones) visits Longo in the jail room.
Through its muddled narrative, I came to the conclusion that Goold and co-writer David Kajganich didn’t want the audience to know what was true and what was false. This added more tension but put a damper to the film. Luckily, Franco and Hill’s performances are worthy enough to carry the film to a modest standing. True Story leaves the audience in hell on wanting to known everything, but Goold holds back and keeps you guessing right up until the very last frame.
True Story is rated R (Restricted). For language and some disturbing material.