True Story

“By now, most people know that instead of asking me if I have any plans for the weekend, the proper question is what movies am I seeing. One of the times that question arose this week, I said True Story. They hadn’t heard of it, so I began, as I often do, by listing the cast. “”It’s Jonah Hill and James Franco…”” I see a look that indicates they’ve pegged the type of movie. I quickly interject “”This is them being serious this time””. Queue the look of surprise.

I actually really like this idea. James Franco is known for all sorts of crazy things, including his comedic roles. Jonah Hill is also primarily known for comedies. Yet the two have managed (very well deserved) Oscar nominations during their career. You watch some of their typical fare (This Is the End, Superbad, Pineapple Express) and the mind boggles at the thought. But you watch something they were nominated for (Franco 127 Hours, Hill Moneyball and Wolf of Wall Street) and you forget these are typically funny and irreverent dudes. It makes perfect sense in my world that the two would choose to work on a serious film together, and it’s a thought that excited me greatly.

This is the true story (oh I get it now!) of Christian Longo (Franco) and Mike Finkel (Hill). Finkel was once a highly acclaimed writer for the NYT until an article he published with some narrative liberties tarnished his reputation. Longo is a recently captured fugitive, wanted for murdering his wife and children, who had been using Finkel’s name as an alias. Curiosity peaked, Finkel meets with Longo to find out why he’d choose to impersonate him Longo proceeds to exclusively tell Finkel his story while awaiting trial.

My main takeaway is that for a film about two men who ultimately just want to be taken seriously, the film itself tries way too hard to be taken seriously itself. There’s just some movies that have this strange I’m-very-important tone, where you feel like the filmmakers were simply after acclaim, and inevitably fall short. This certainly had that air, but it wasn’t due to the cast. I thought the boys were incredible, giving as good a performance as they ever have. The story itself was incredibly fascinating. I was completely on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen. Did he do it? Will he be convicted? What’s he holding back? That was enough to keep me captivated, even if the film itself was rather flawed.

Among the flaws was a criminally underutilized Felicity Jones as Finkel’s girlfriend Jill. (Sidebar, I’m pretty sure the first trailer I saw listed the boys as academy nominees, but failed to recognize hers. A week later when I saw it, it was either corrected or I was crazy the first time). She’s a fantastic actress and did the best with what little she could, but she seemed to be randomly inserted here and there without much reason or development.

Anyways, for me, I thought it was all worth it. For anyone else, I’d have to give it some thought

True Story – \m/ \m/ \m/”

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