James Franco and Jonah Hill have some chats about truth and murder.
Telling the story of a murderer is always an ethical dilemma and a hard thing to do, far to often we glamorise hardened criminals or serial killers as masterminds and by explaining their actions we can justify them. True Story successfully navigates that minefield, giving us a truly harrowing thriller about the crimes of real life sociopath Christian Longo.
The film follows Jonah Hill’s Michael Finkel as he recovers from being fired from the NY Times after falsifying a story and becomes aware that a man accused of murdering his family has been using his name as an alias. Looking to meet the man, James Franco’s Longo, Finkel becomes entranced in the murders, investigating the circumstances and quizzing Longo in jail. Finkel’s partner Jill, played by the wonderful Felicity Jones, becomes increasingly concerned as the journalist and criminal becomes closer and closer acquainted.
From the Judd Apatow crew, both James Franco and Jonah Hill have stepped out into dramatic roles in recent times. While Jonah Hill has found success with Moneyball and The Wolf Of Wall Street, Franco seems to take anything that comes his way and has far more misses on his resume. Franco is the weakest link in this film, playing a character that should ebb between innocent victim and sadistic mastermind, we get a glazed eyed stoned performance that confused more than propelled the plot. Hill is engaging and luckily the lead here, playing Finkel at a moral crossroads and sucked into Longo’s situation.
Unfamiliar with the history of Christian Longo, the story was gripping and had me guessing for the entire film, even the ending was a surprise and something that sparked discussion after the credits rolled. While the acting could have derailed the suspense, the ambient music and grey/blue colour scheme kept the mood dark and engaging throughout. While this could easily be dismissed as a few A-List Hollywood actors hanging out with a dialogue heavy script to play with, the overall presentation was satisfying and worth a watch for any fan of thrilling murder mysteries.