Rupert Goold's True Story is a dark and relentless drama, with two absolutely phenomenal performances by James Franco and Jonah Hill, which not only elevates the material, but saves the film's soft ending from becoming a complete disappointment.
Rupert Goold‘s True Story is a cold and often-times disturbing film, based on true events between reporter Michael Finkel and murderer Christian Longo. James Franco and Jonah Hill deliver two exceptional performances, which helps elevate the film’s script far past its original expectations and helps create a film that’s both a twisted character study and an examination of what the truth really means.
Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is an accomplished journalist, writing for outlets such as The New York Times. He just turned in his last story, which may or may not have had him bending facts to help paint a bigger picture and get a stronger message out to his readers.
He believes that he does everything for a good cause and that people want the truth and he prides himself on just how far that he’s willing to go to uncover it.
Christian Longo (James Franco) is your average man, a father and a husband just trying to get by in life. That all changes when his wife and kids are found brutally murdered and he’s the only prime suspect.
To make matters worse, Christian flees the country and when he is caught he tells the police that he’s Michael Finkel.
True Story unravels like a good murder case, constantly shifting the truth and exposing its characters for who they really are versus who they claim to be.
Director Rupert Goold shoots True Story with a pulled back approach, never quite placing all of the blame on Christian, while also questioning every single word that he speaks up until the film’s exposing finale.
Some might be instantly turned off by Goold’s commitment to keeping the story grounded and close to the real life roots that it is inspired by, while others will appreciate his eye for tone and unsettling detail.
True Story isn’t exactly a graphic film, but it’s definitely an unsettling one that explains such events in a brutal matter, while also playing with the idea of truth and how far people will go to expose it or even bend it in their favor.
James Franco and Jonah Hill elevate the script in ways that one might not expect. Both pack emotional punches to their respective characters that made even me feel slightly surprised with just how well they work.
Franco’s Christian is a deranged nut job with a calm sense of manners, while Hill’s Michael is a mostly honest and good-natured man just caught up in a storm of misfortune events that lead to desperation and some soul-searching.
Watching both men give such capable and focused performances is a powerful feeling that makes me wonder why they mostly stick to the comedy genre when they have performances like this to offer up.
The pair keep the film moving at a fast enough pace to keep the audiences from coming completely bored with the film, even if Goold’s script can’t seem to keep up with the tension created by Franco and Hill.
Eventually, True Story runs out of momentum and comes to a screeching halt that can only be described as unpleasant and not exactly satisfying. Part of this can be blamed on the story that the film is based upon or Goold’s script, which remains faithful almost too much.
People will be talking about Franco and Hill’s performances long after they’ve finished discussing the film itself, which is fine, because both men deserve the praise and will hopefully get cast for such demanding roles more often.