True Story (2015)

Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones, Maria Dizzia
When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo - who has taken on Finkel's identity - his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.
James Franco and Jonah Hill make a watchable pair, but True Story loses their performances -- and the viewer's interest -- in a muddled movie that bungles its fact-based tale.
  • 20th Century Fox Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 17 Apr 2015 Released:
  • 04 Aug 2015 DVD Release:
  • $6.6M Box office:
  • Michael Finkel (memoir), Rupert Goold (screenplay) Writer:
  • Rupert Goold Director:
  • N/A Website:

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The Truth Always Matters7/10
Saw True Story (film) starring Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Felicity Jones at Regal Cinemas last night! The film is based on actual events. It was very unusual, yet interesting and visually stimulating to see both Jonah and James playing roles so out of their ordinary type. Hill portrays Michael Finkel, The New York Times journalist who is subsequently terminated by the paper after being accused of incomplete research and creating a composite character, a boy named Youssouf Male while covering a story in an article about Ivory Coast Cocoa Plantations.

After being let go by the Times, Finkel (Hill) struggles to find journalistic job opportunities until one day he receives a mysterious phone call from a man regarding an FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation Most Wanted individual named Christian Longo, portrayed by Franco, who is wanted for murdering his entire family and is eventually captured in Mexico while claiming to be living as Finkel. Finkel decides this is an opportunity story of a life time, so he meets with Longo trying to figure out why his now tarnished journalistic name was used by this accused murderer.

Finkel agrees to share his journalistic expertise with Longo in exchange for information regarding the murders for his Murder Memoir which tells a "True Story" regarding the events portrayed in the film. While in Newport, Oregon County Jail awaiting trial, Longo corresponds with Finkel via U.S. Mail, sending him written clues which appear to be confusing and misleading about his family life, yet enough information to put the pieces of the puzzle together and compile a Murder Memoir. Finkel attends the trial and at the end he uncovers the "True Story."

The film has several twists and turns which will keep you interested. It was cool to see both Hill and Franco play roles no one would ever think they would take on. Both actors handled this "True Story" film brilliantly! Not a must see, but definitely worth seeing if you want to experience these veteran actor Academy Award Nominees in diverse roles. My cinema score is 7/10! ‪#‎maverickradio‬™
Don't trust the reviews - this is a must see9/10
I had been looking forward to True Story since I first saw the trailer in December. And then I read reviews tonight on it and was pretty worried. I actually almost didn't go to the theater to see it. I almost considered waiting for the DVD (or Digital HD rather, Ha) release. I am glad I didn't.

I am not going to recap the entire summary of the film, as if you are reading this, chances are you already know it, and if you don't, the less you know the better. I just finished researching the true story of the film, and it appears this film is quite close to the truth. (Unlike the characters in the film)

This is a movie about deception involving characters that fabricate the truth to incredible lengths and spin endless webs of lies. One character to a lesser extent to the other, but I found it interesting how this film portrayed the similarities between these two men. The story is brilliantly woven, and extreme attention to detail is paid. The cinematography is beautiful, the acting is solid, this is just all around an exceptionally well made film. It's tragic, yet very thought provoking.

The main two complaints I heard in critical reviews were that the film lacked suspense, and that it was a whole lot of buildup with no payoff. The no payoff criticism concerned me the most, as I can't stand movies like that, and that criticism seemed to be the biggest people were making.

Realize going in, this is a psychological drama/thriller. I personally was riveted and in constant psychological suspense, but there isn't any real physical suspense throughout the film. The suspense comes from a psychological place, falling victim to the constant mind games, and not knowing what the truth really is.

And as for the biggest criticism, that there wasn't any payoff, I couldn't disagree more. I'd like to ask these critics to their face - how much more payoff are you looking for? Given the details of the true events, there isn't any more payoff that could have been provided, in fact, I felt the payoff of this film to be big. It was a psychologically riveting experience that provided a lot to think about long after the end credits rolled.
An unlikely friendship.9/10
The issue of journalistic integrity comes to the fore in this excellent story about two men who form an unlikely and bizarre friendship. Both men are emotionally damaged, both have had run-ins with authority and each identifies with the other. That one is disgraced journalist and the other a mass murderer makes the story even more intense. The movie brings out how emotions can distort reasoning and cause people to project all kinds of feelings onto another until truth becomes blurred. It is the blurring of the truth that takes place here. The movie does an outstanding job of showing how, in defiance of the intense pressure that was being applied to both men to end their communications, the friendship evolves. It occurs in stages. The details of how it happens and how it effects both men is what this movie is about. Jonah Hill and James Franco are outstanding in their respective roles as the journalist and the mass murderer. For further details, watch the movie.
Destined to provoke divisiveness in the best possible way8/10
"True Story" concerns Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), a respected journalist for "The New York Times" who has made a name for himself with numerous front-page articles. When he takes his latest piece, concerning contemporary African slave trading, and deeply obscures specific details about his subjects, he is fired from his job and his reputation is tarnished. While residing in the middle of nowhere with his wife, Michael receives word that his likeness has been used by a man named Christian Longo (James Franco), who is convicted of killing his wife and their three children. Michael travels to prison to meet and talk with Christian, who he is stunned to find is a soft-spoken, frightened soul with a story to tell of his own. After learning of Christian's own personal perspective of the murders, Michael begins to write a book on him, finding himself caught between a wedge of believing Christian's story but also looking at indisputable facts of the case.

Right off the bat, it's odd to see both Jonah Hill and James Franco in a film together and not creating a raunchy, ribald atmosphere. While both men have ventured into drama before (especially Franco, who is, dare I say, the most diverse actor in Hollywood), having these two men work together and not drum up any laughs is a strange thing to note. However, this fact becomes less apparent when we remember, and it only takes moments to do so once the film begins, how great Hill and Franco are at playing complex, layered dramatic roles. Hill's straight-forward seriousness combined with Franco's mannered eloquence creates a story that works from the start on the basis of actor chemistry and effectiveness alone.

The film bears a strong resemblance to Truman Capote's book "In Cold Blood," as we watch a journalist get so invested in the lives of a murderer who winds up developing tunnel vision so narrow that he can't see the obvious guilt and manipulation around him. Michael becomes wrapped up with finding out who Christian really is as a person, enthralled by his perspective, which has been muted by what seems to be sensational headlines and news reports, that he simply wants to get to the heart of his subject. Yet, when we see a family completely broken and another telling his side of the story, not really justifying his actions nor explicitly denying them, we become entangled in a web of conflicting testimonies.

To respond to "True Story" in a manner of confusion is only natural; if anything, you're exhibiting conflicting attitudes the real life Michael Finkel probably did when he met Christian Longo and spoke with him over time. The film subtly answers the questions of truth and examines how perspective and stories, when told rather than pushed aside or muted, do not justify an entire situation, especially one so heinous, but work to complicate it and leave no questions easily answered. We become just as entangled as Michael, and when the film ends, ostensibly without progressing a whole lot, we find ourselves left to our own vices in terms of how we analyze what we just watched.

"True Story" is destined to be one of the most underrated and misunderstood pictures of the year, and the latter because of the fact that there are going to be a barrage of ways one can digest this film. Some have criticized the film for seemingly rooting for the redemption of Christian before doubling back in the concluding trial scenes, yet consider how Michael views him throughout the entire film. He clearly wants the man to redeemed if he had done anything wrong, and tries to believe that he has a troubled, deeply confused soul in his company. However, facts catch up and it is then we realize what we're dealing with, and that's one of the reasons "True Story" is so special; it leads us one way, gets us believing one thing, before calling us on our bluff and letting our guard down.
Slightly more impressed than I thought I be.8/10
I did not see that coming. James Franco and Jonah Hill together in a movie that is not a comedy.

Sure, out of the hilarious cast of This is the End, it would make the most since that these two would do drama, but still, I went into this movie expecting it to be a laughable mess, but was really amazed how well done it was.

You got to get over the fact that it's Franco and Hill. Individually the two of them doing drama is a lot easier to swallow, especially Jonah with things like Money Ball and Wolf of Wall Street on his resume. You can take it serious when the two are apart, but together you're expecting comedy.

What's interesting about True Story is that Hill and Franco are playing the archetypes that you'd expect from them, and because of this, the movie could have easily worked as a comedy. It was Hill and Franco doing what you seen them do a million times in comedies but doing it in a drama piece. It does not make the movie better (it may have done better if they made it a comedy), but it made the movie more interesting.

Both men did a fine job with the material, it was well acted by everyone involved. I would recommend giving it a shot.