“True Story,” is a film about two men: Michael Finkel and Christian Longo. It is based on the memoir of the same name. Finkel was an elite journalist working for the New York Times and traveled the world reporting for the paper. He was so used to having his work featured, that he was a bit too cocky and along with it too loose with the truth. He gets caught lying in an article he wrote about a boy working at a cocoa plantation. He used five boys to create a composite character – it may of been a good story. But it was also a lie. It was a lie that got Michael Finkel fired and ruined his reputation.
In the midst of trying to find new work in his home in Montana, Michael is tipped off by another journalist that a child killer was caught using Michael’s name as his own – this man was Christian Longo. Michael was curious to why Longo would use his name and he wrote to the killer while he awaited trial in Oregon.
The letter leads to in-person interview with Longo and during the interview Longo offers Finkel an exclusive. After trading letters back and forth, Finkel realizes that he has the makings of a good book on his hands. He is given a large advance to continue the book and as Michael’s hubris grows, his ability to see the truth clearly diminishes.
There is one person who immediately sees Longo for what he is and that is Michael’s wife Jill (Felicity Jones). She sees her husband being duped by this psychopathic murderer and it concerns her.
In the end, Longo is convicted of aggravated murder of his wife Mary Jane, his daughters Sadie and Madison and his son Zachary and he is sentenced to death. And once the trial is over, Michael finally starts to see the real truth about Christian Longo.
“True Story,” is a compelling portrait of truth and how it is used and twisted to one’s advantage. Michael lies to get a good story and Longo lies, saying he is an innocent man. The film is also an excellent example of how a narcissistic psychopath uses other people to their own benefit.
“True Story,” is the film debut of filmmaker by Robert Goold. He co-wrote the film along with directing it. Serving as one of the executive producers of the film is Academy Award winner Brad Pitt. This is an excellent debut for Goold.
Both Jonah Hill and James Franco are masterful in their interpretation of their characters. This is another fine performance for both. Hill and Franco play off each other so well and they were perfectly matched to play Finkel and Longo. Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”) also give a great supporting performance here as well.
Ultimately, this film will stay with you for a while. It will have you questioning your own truth and how you may manipulate it to suit your own life.
“True Story” is rated R for language and some disturbing material and has a run-time of 99 minutes.