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James Franco and Jonah Hill Deliver a ‘True Story’

James Franco-True StoryFull disclosure: I never followed the real-life events that
inspired this movie, so I am a perfect audience for it. If you know the saga of
disgraced New York Times reporter
Michael Finkel and his involvement with a man who was accused of murdering his wife
and children, you may have an entirely different reaction…especially if you’ve
seen Finkel interviewed on TV and heard the recordings he made of Christian
Longo while he was in prison.

What elevates this film above the level of a television
docudrama is the performances by Jonah Hill and James Franco. Hill has
established his credibility as a dramatic actor by now, but Franco takes on a
challenge I’ve never seen him attempt before. He remains enigmatic, aloof, and
unreadable as a man who may have committed a crime so heinous it almost defies
belief. Yet he manages to engage reporter Hill, whose job it is to separate
fact from fiction.

Jonah Hill-True Story

British stage director Rupert Goold makes his film debut
with this unusual drama, a mood piece he also wrote with David Kajganich from
Michael Finkel’s tell-all book. The film (like the book, I presume) obliges us
to consider the ethics of a reporter who, after being fired from the Times for fudging the truth in a major story,
sees a chance at redemption—and riches—in landing a true-crime scoop. 

The story plays out, in large part, on the two actors’
faces, and their committed performances make True Story watchable. (Felicity Jones, who plays Hill’s wife, has
one key scene that validates her presence in the picture.)

Yet in spite of this True
Story
has not resonated with me. I appreciate the quality of performances,
and I’d especially encourage Franco fans to check out his work. Overall, I’d
call this a good effort with modest results.

        

         

4 comments

  1. a.w. says:

    "Overall, I’d call this a good effort with modest results." So, this is a 3 stars out of 4 stars film? Or a 2.5 stars out of 4 stars?

  2. Fiona Mae says:

    Hey everybody. I read the original script for this when Walter Salles was going to direct it (I work in a casting office) and I was quite excited to see it. I couldn’t believe the bad reviews it’s been getting, because the script I read was just superb. So I go see the movie and half of it has been traded out for the most inane, simplistic writerly bullshit. I couldn’t believe it! I asked a friend who works at a studio to explain how this such a good script goes south like this and this was our conversation:
    Her: Who wrote the script you liked?
    Me: David SomebodyWhoseNameICan’tPronounce.
    Her: Who does it say wrote the film you saw?
    Me: Rupert Goold and Dave NameICan’tPronounce.
    Her: Listed in that order?
    Me: Yes.
    Her: Then your David NameYouCan’tProunouce got rewritten. If that’s the order, that means Rupert Goold rewrote more than 50% of the new script, but less than 75% of it, otherwise David NameYouCan’tPronounce wouldn’t have gotten any credit at all.
    So that explains it. What a waste of a good script. Rupert Goold, if you’re reading this, stick to directing theatre and keep your hands of the keyboard, man. You don’t got it.

  3. C.C. says:

    Wow. Here’s a movie brazen enough to move the qualifier of ‘based on a true story’ from the opening credits to the Title! That’s a first. We all know that ‘based on a true story’ is supposed to give it extra dramatic heft just by that statement. And we all know that it is usually is a gross exaggeration. But kudos for the stones to use it as a title!!
    And, despite what others say, my rule of never seeing movies with the non-talent Jonah Hill stands.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    This seems to be another journalism film that just scratches the surface of the personalities involved. A shame, really.

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