True Story Blu-ray Review
A movie starring Jonah Hill and James Franco should be written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, so maybe it’s a little unusual that the two actors are going against typecast and starring in a film about a strange relationship between a murderer and a journalist. But that’s exactly what we have with TRUE STORY, which features two great performances from the leads, but fails to really give us anything more than a standard, by the numbers story.
James Franco plays Christian Longo, who stands accused of brutally murdering his wife and three children. While on the run, he uses the alias Mike Finkel, who is a recently disgraced, former reporter from the New York Times. When the real Finkel gets wind of Longo’s use of his name, he reaches out to Longo to ask why. That starts an uneasy relationship between Finkel and Longo, culminating in Finkel getting the exclusive rights to Longo’s story. But as the two get to know each other and details start to be revealed, Finkel begins to realize that Longo might not be the person he originally thought he was.
The performances are superb, most notably from Jonah Hill, who continues to prove he can do more than just talk fast and crack jokes. Director Rupert Goold relied heavily on uncomfortably close-up shots of the two actors, which worked at times to create a near-claustrophobic feeling in the film, but also backfired since the reactions from the opposite actor would have been nice. Their relationship relies heavily on what the other person is feeling or believing at any given moment and the narrow scope of each shot robbed the audience of really understanding each character. But let’s also apply some understanding here and accept that one of these guys is a demented serial killer and it doesn’t really matter what he’s feeling; a point that’s driven home beautifully when Finkel’s wife (played by a very strong Felicity Jones) confronts Longo.
Watching kids get hurt onscreen is very uncomfortable for an audience and if it’s going to be used in a film, it needs to drive home a point. Goold opens the film with some disturbing imagery that really doesn’t fit with the early tone of the film and sets everything off a little awkwardly. We know what Longo was accused of, but in the beginning, Finkel is reluctant to accept what everyone else already knows. But as Finkel starts realizing the truth, it made sense to use some of that disturbing imagery (made sense, even if I still didn’t find it necessary). But using it in the beginning felt like a misstep for Goold and brought to light some of the tone issues throughout the film.
There’s nothing technically wrong with TRUE STORY and the biggest complaint about the film is that it’s too average. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the story before I saw the movie, I felt like I knew everything that was going to happen. It’s a very bland, straightforward story that fails to create tension or suspense, even though it’s executed very well.
Video: There’s not much color to be had in TRUE STORY, but the Blu-ray transfer does the often saturated colors justice.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Commentary with Rupert Goold: Goold gets excited talking about his film and it’s almost contagious as you’re watching it along with him. He gives a great commentary.
Deleted Scenes (16:41): Nothing of note here. I enjoyed listening to Goold’s commentary on the scenes more than the actual scenes.
Featurettes (16:58): These were very fluffy compared to what I was hoping for. The real story deserved more than four minutes and I would have liked to see why Franco and Hill chose this particular story to divert from their usual comedic fare.
Gallery and Trailer