Film Review: ‘True Story’ Just Leaves a False Impression

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Sometimes, just casting a film with “names” is not enough to make it work. Jonah Hill and James Franco play cat-and-mouse for 100 minutes in “True Story,” but the narrative, the structure and their own inability to communicate their characters conspired against the overall experience. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

The problem is the foregone conclusion, that scene after scene in the film just keeps setting up. There is no meat to this insidious based-on-truth story as it unfolds, and it devolves into a series of confrontations between characters that just become more convenient – as far as revealing the secrets of a criminal mind – and culminating in a trial that seemed already adjudicated, given the events leading up to it. Jonah Hill and James Franco are both miscast in their respective lead roles, lacking the necessary presence to portray a journalist and a smooth felon, and just made the weak screenplay adaption that much more annoying.

New York Times journalist Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is summarily fired after a story he condensed for dramatic effect is exposed as untrue. He runs back to his fiancée Jill (Felicity Jones) to lick his wounds, but soon gets caught up in another story. Christian Longo (James Franco) is a man who is accused of killing his wife and children, but something doesn’t seem right about him or the story.

Seeking a chance at redemption, Finkel becomes involved in the events leading up to Longo’s trial, with a juicy book offer to pursue it to the end. In the meantime, Longo is ingratiating himself with the journalist, and begins to plant doubt about the circumstances of the murders. Between the prosecution of the crime and Finkel’s determination to vet Longo, the truth of “True Story” becomes blurred.

“True Story” is now in theaters. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones and Gretchen Moi. Screenplay adapted and directed by Rupert Goold. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ‘True Story”

Jonah Hill
Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) Confers with Christian Longo (James Franco) in ‘True Story’
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ‘True Story”

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