Cinema Review: True Story | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, January 18th, 2020  

True Story

Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by Rupert Goold

Apr 15, 2015 Web Exclusive
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In 2002, journalist Mike Finkel was dismissed from the New York Times for willfully muddying facts in an article on modern-day slave trade in Africa. The once-acclaimed reporter retreated to his Montana home to try and pick up the pieces to his crumbled career. It was there he received the most surprising news of his life: a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted list had been caught in Mexico—where he’d been living under Finkel’s identity. Awaiting trial under charges of murdering his wife and three children in Oregon, Christian Longo agreed to tell his story to Finkel, which would become part of the writer’s bestselling memoir, True Story.

Rupert Goold’s cinematic retelling of Finkel’s ordeal casts Jonah Hill as the tarnished reporter and James Franco as his dangerous interview subject. Its best moments are the multiple prison sit-downs between the two men, which at their high points portray the relationship in a way that calls to mind Silence of the Lambs. (In both cases, the person more capable of carefully maneuvering through these tête-à-têtes is the one in shackles.) Franco is finely cast as the manipulative murderer—his heavy-lidded eyes and half-smirk can be menacing given the right material, and his cool demeanor makes it difficult for the audience to separate the truth from his lies. Hill is capable, as per usual, but his character’s side storylines—his fall-from-grace, his obsessive quest for redemption, and his waning relationship with his wife (Felicity Jones)—feel like flimsy trappings to surround his more intriguing search for truth within Longo’s tall tales. However, without those scenes tacked-on, there probably wouldn’t have been enough substance to justify a feature-length film.

www.foxsearchlight.com/true-story

Author rating: 5.5/10

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