Once again, James Franco and Jonah Hill prove that their film destiny lies not only in comedy, but also in drama. Franco transforms himself completely as Christian Longo, a character who is both enticingly charismatic – and terrifyingly manipulative. In True Story, Christian Longo pulls the foundation of New York Times journalist Michael Finkel’s (Jonah Hill) life out from under him, as he begins to assimilate Finkel’s very identity after Longo is arrested for the murder of his own wife and three daughters. Following the journalist’s discovery that Christian Longo has adopted his name, a series of jailhouse visits occur, and during these visits Finkel attempts to deduce whether Longo is guilty or not.
Jonah Hill has demonstrated his ability to convey the idiosyncratic nature of human kind before in his portrayal of Peter Brand in Moneyball. Hill establishes that he is able to dial it back a notch and deliver a performance that is subtly encapsulating, as a man who is caught in a tangle of lies by no fault of his own. The friendship struck up by Longo and Finkel is legitimised by Franco and Hill’s own off-screen friendship – a genuine chemistry emanates from the screen, which aids in seducing the viewer, preventing them from realising that the apparent questioning of journalistic integrity within society is no more than a platform that Franco and Hill can stretch their acting chops on. A simple case of style over substance.
These characters seemed to have accumulated more significance than the actual story. Seemingly irrelevant scenes punctuate the picture throughout; for example a transition from one character typing on his laptop to another playing a piano seems to imply some kind of poignant imagery, but instead falls flat in every respect, with no correlation being immediately apparent.
Usually a director will take creative liberties to increase dramatic tension within their films, or even to just ensure that their films are compelling throughout, however it seems here that Rupert Gool has done everything in his power to guarantee that this extraordinary story appears uninteresting. Even the “twist” falls short of the wow factor.
True Story was released nationwide on 17th July 2015.
Watch the trailer for True Story here: