Jonah Hill plays Michael Finkel, a recently terminated New York Times journalist who's struggling for work after a story gone wrong. One day, he receives a phone call from a man regarding an FBI Most Wanted individual named Christian Longo, who's been captured and claimed to be living as Finkel. Longo and Finkel meet and form a potentially marriage shattering bond while Longo is in prison awaiting his trial. Finkel exchanges journalism tips for the real events behind Longo's alleged heinous acts of murdering his family. Through the twists and turns in the movie, only at the end will Finkel uncover the True Story.Written by
The scene where Jonah Hill punches the bathroom stall was improvised. He actually ended up hurting his hand and had to go the the hospital afterwards, but ended up just being a slight bruised bone. See more »
When Pat Frato calls Michael Finkle to get his side of the story, he tell's him that Christian Longo was captured in Cancun, Mexico. This is in part true, he was captured in Tulum, about 40 miles south of Cancun, however, when we first see Longo in the movie, talking to the German girl, they are in a church in downtown Mexico City. All Mexico scenes happen around Santo Domingo plaza, a few blocks from Mexico City's main square. Mexico City and Cancun are about 800 miles apart. See more »
Sometimes you have to accept looking one way in order to protect something more important.
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Sonata in F Moll Op.57 (Appassionata), Andante Con Moto, Allegro Ma Non Troppo Presto
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by Eliska Novotná-Gazdová
Courtesy of The Savoy Label Group, LLC / Selectracks, Inc. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. "Sometimes the truth isn't believable. But that doesn't mean it's not true". These words are spoken by Christian Longo, the man accused of brutally murdering his wife and 3 kids in 2001. The line between truth and lies is at the core of this real life story based on journalist Michael Finkel's memoir and recollections of his conversations with Longo.
The New York Times investigative reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is introduced to us as he is researching the story which ultimately leads to his dismissal, after it's discovered he played fast and loose with details in order to present a more impactful story. Soon he receives an odd phone call from an Oregon writer (Ethan Suplee) who informs Finkel that his name is being used by Longo (James Franco), the suspected murderer who was recently captured in Mexico. As a disgraced journalist, Finkel seizes the opportunity to connect with Longo, and soon enough the two morally-compromised men are locked in psychological warfare, where we as viewers aren't sure just who is using who in this oddball "friendship".
Hill and Franco are best known for their raunchy and raucous comedies, and both deliver much "quieter" performances than what we have come to expect from them. While it's a bit of stretch to buy Jonah Hill as a renowned writer, Franco is absolutely chilling as a manipulative psychopath. Franco is so good in the role that he overpowers Hill, which undermines what was supposed to be an intricate game of cat and mouse.
Franco is a frightening figure on the courtroom witness stand as he tells his version of that fateful night, and he is equally unnerving to watch in general conversation with Finkel. However, the single best scene in the film comes when Felicity Jones unleashes the wrath of truth on Franco's Longo. Ms. Jones is otherwise underutilized for most of the film, as her relationship with Finkel is never really explored.
Rather than provide any substantive background on what makes either Finkel or Longo tick, we are instead left to make our own assumptions based on the framed magazine covers and the spurts of flashbacks. And thus the film's biggest flaw is cheating us out of the backstory that might help explain the otherwise fascinating conversations/showdowns between these two flawed gents one significantly more flawed than the other.
It's impossible not to compare this to Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" and the subsequent films based on his writing experience: Capote (2005), and Infamous (2006). Stretching and bending the truth are common themes, as are intriguing and disturbing insights from the writers and the accused.
There are times True Story comes off as little more than a made for TV movie, but the best moments more than make up for it, and Franco's portrayal will stick with you long after Finkel finally understands who and what he is dealing with. It's also a reminder that there are people who "want the truth so badly" they "will lie to get it". Try saying that with a wink.
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