Directed by Rupert Goold, the man behind the Hollow Crown, a mini-series of adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, True Story is the mystery drama based on the real life relationship between journalist Mike Finkel and murderer Christian Longo who used Finkle’s identity whilst on the run from the police after his wife and children are found murdered.
Jonah Hill is Mike Finkel, a journalist with the New York Times but after he fudges some facts on his latest cover story he is sacked and his reputation lies in tatters.
Just when he thinks he’ll never work again he finds out that a man arrested for murdering his own wife and three children has been using Finkle’s identity.
James Franco plays the accused murderer Christian Longo and while it’s refreshing to see Franco in another serious role, nor he or the scripwripter can quite pull off the mystique required of a ‘did he?- didn’t he?’ Although if you are already familiar with the case, you’ll know the answer.
Hill does a good job of playing Finkel but it’s never quite clear why Longo took on Finkel’s identity, why the two of them have this ‘connection’ to each other and why Finkel would continue to talk to Longo long after the trial had ended.
True Story is a fascinating story and is shot beautifully but there are some problems. The main one being Finkel’s wife, played by Felicity Jones. I had assumed was a friend or relative of Finkel’s for a long time because they have no chemistry and come across more like brother and sister than husband and wife.
I understand that his wife found his latest project, interviewing a murderer, creepy as all hell but she seems permanently, and for no reason, pissed off and depressed.
Her husband is a writer, surely she’s used to that and knows what it takes to get to the story and frankly a murderer using his identity is a huge story and one he’s entitled to write but she clearly doesn’t approve. There is one good scene involving her and Franko but that one scene aside she really didn’t need to be in the film, which is frustrating because I was beginning to think there was a parallel between Finkel’s wife and Longo’s wife but that never really comes to anything.
Presented much like a play, with many scenes confined to a prison meeting room with just the two main actors True Story is interesting but a little underwhelming by the end. I suspect Mike Finkel’s book, also called True Story may offer more insight.
True Story is out in cinemas now!