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True Story Review


Based on the memoir of journalist Michael Finkel, True Story chronicles the relationship between Finkel (Jonah Hill), following his dismissal from The New York Times for fabricating part of a story, and Christian Longo (James Franco), a man in prison for killing his family who used Finkel’s identity  as an alias while on the run. With this compelling detail as its set-up, True Story proceeds to delve into the area of manipulation, both on the part of the media and the individual, and narcissism,  as Finkel and Longo’s relationship shows the two men as dark mirrors of each other. But unfortunately True Story falls at the first hurdle, failing to develop into something close to interesting.

Making his feature debut here after a successful run as a theatre director, Rupert Goold can’t shake off his stage roots with most of what transpires here coming across as it would work better as a play, with huge swaths of time devoted to Finkel and Longo’s cat and mouse style tete-a-tetes. While these scenes are where the meat of the story lies, they come off as drab and uninteresting, and just rehash existing information over and over again making the plot seem like it advances at a snail's pace. The scenes slotted in between their meetings don’t do much either, with Goold mistaking montages as short hand for dramatic, and the whole affair lacking anything in the way of tension. It’s a shame the story is as underdeveloped as it is, as the real-life facts it is based are incredibly compelling, but something gets lost in translation here. At one point, Finkel is asked if the story would work better as an article as a opposed to a book, and maybe a similar question should have been asked of the movie, as it feels stretched far too thin to fill its run time, with certain plot points, especially Finkel’s girlfriend Jill (Felicity Jones) reaction to his growing obsession, going absolutely no where and feeling tacked on.

While better known as comedians, we all know both Hill and Franco, last seen together in This Is The End, can handle themselves as in straight, dramatic roles, and they do well with what they’re given here. They’re incredibly watchable together, and carry the movie for much of the time. Hill makes for a competent protagonist, making his many flaws and flights of ego an important part of his character, bubbling just underneath the surface. Franco is often times oddly charming as the increasingly narcissistic Longo, but for most of his turn he comes off as incredibly flat and sedate, even more as time passes. The biggest waste of talent though has to be Jones, who accomplishes nothing with her role, despite the script giving her an important confrontation with Longo, that, much like the rest of the movie, fails to accomplish anything.

Despite a solid effort on the part of Hill and Franco, True Story ultimately wastes the compelling true life facts that inspired it, adding up to a dull and ultimately uninteresting experience.

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The Movie Bit: True Story Review
True Story Review
The Movie Bit
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