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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Movie Review - True Story

True Story (2015)
Starring Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Felicity Jones
Directed by Rupert Goold

***A few spoilers ahead in this one, but the story is "public knowledge" in that it's a true story that one could research via news articles.***

Based on a true story, True Story tells the tale of Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), a well-respected New York Times reporter who just lost his job after partially fabricating a story.  Returning home to his wife (Felicity Jones) in Montana, Michael is told of Christian Longo (James Franco), a man accused of murdering his wife and children who, upon being arrested in Mexico, lied to the authorities by saying he was "Michael Finkel."  Intrigued by this and curious as to why Christian would initially have pretended to be him, Michael meets the accused criminal in jail and begins to wonder of Christian is truly guilty of the crimes he purportedly committed.  In addition, Michael sees this as an opportunity to create a nonfiction book that may place him back into the good graces of the investigative journalism community.

True Story works in that it keeps one's attention throughout, but despite its relatively short running time, it often feels as if it's being dragged out a bit.  In what is essentially a three character piece, we're given a lot of dialogue between Michael and Christian as they both try and feel each other out and while it's interesting to begin with, it admittedly grows a little tedious as things progress.  Fortunately, Jonah Hill is quite good, capturing the desperation of a man who has made errors in judgement and must do what he can to get back on the right track.  Felicity Jones also gets one scene to shine, but it's only one -- and it made me wish she had more to do because she's captivating in her one moment.  James Franco, on the other hand, has me befuddled.  Christian is a bit of a psychopath, but there was never a single moment in this film that had me questioning his innocence.  Franco plays him a bit too nefarious and over-the-top for me to really grasp Michael's willingness to believe in him.  While there are certainly reasons the beleaguered journalist bought in to Christian's effusive praises, the way Franco depicts things there is always a glint of evil in his eyes as opposed to a vagueness which I think is necessary to really create dramatic tension.

Overall, True Story is a decent true crime pic, but it never quite fully comes together.  Still, if this one ever ends up streaming on Netflix, it'd be worth a look.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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