Movies: True Story

So this one didn't do well at the box office, and has 45% from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, 42% from viewers. But I didn't think it was all that bad. It wasn't great, but it wasn't awful.

True Story IS a true story, though whenever something gets filtered through Hollywood . . . Well, but anyway, it's about ex-New York Times writer Mike Finkel and how he got entangled with murderer Christian Longo. Longo killed his entire family then went on the run using Finkel's identity. As a [recently disgraced] journalist, Finkel smelled a story and dove in.

My guess is most people didn't like that this is a talky movie. It's a lot of close-up shots, a lot of back and forth. There's no real action, though director Goold does at least try to alleviate things with flashbacks to the crime. It's a dark film—Longo killed his wife and three children—and heavy, and there's no real redemption in the end of the kind we've been trained to expect in movies.

Jonah Hill as Finkel and James Franco as Longo do a nice job, though Franco sometimes appears semi-catatonic, as if the movie is putting him to sleep even as he films it. He does play "psychopath" nicely, though. Felicity Jones plays Finkel's wife or girlfriend (not clear which) Jill, who later confronts Longo, but the scene is not quite earned. Though we see Jill get increasingly put off by Finkel's interest in Longo, and then Longo calls and weirds her out . . . It wasn't quite all there to make the scene of her lecturing Longo pay off.

In the end, True Story is an interesting character study. I'd like to maybe read the book now. But I can see how difficult it is to film something like this and make it compelling, which is why I think it tanked a bit with audiences.

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