NEW YORK (CNS) — Crime and punishment are at the heart of “True Story” (Fox), a detailed dissection of a real-life murder case.
The grisly undertones of this whodunit — adapted by director and co-writer (with David Kajganich) Rupert Goold from the memoir by Michael Finkel — make it appropriate for mature viewers only. Yet, for those able to endure its seamier aspects, the film provides a cautionary tale about narcissism and the perils of seeking fame and fortune through the misdeeds of others.
In 2002, Christian Longo (James Franco) is arrested in Mexico and charged with the murder of his wife and three small children back in Oregon. When found, Longo is inexplicably impersonating Finkel (Jonah Hill), a former reporter for The New York Times.
Dismissed from the Times the year before for manipulating the details of an article about the African slave trade, Finkel had retreated to Montana with his wife, Jill (Felicity Jones). By the time of Longo’s detention, Finkel is hard up and worried about his future.
Suspecting there’s a juicy story in Longo’s deception, Finkel arranges a meeting with the ex-fugitive. Their unexpected rapport is instant — and mildly creepy.
What ensues is mutual manipulation. Longo, slimy yet charismatic, seeks a sympathetic ear as he insistently asserts his innocence with such preposterous lines as, “Sometimes the truth isn’t believable. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not true.”
Wide-eyed and surprisingly naive, Finkel grows ever more excited at the prospect of writing a best-selling book about the ultimate vindication of a wrongly accused suspect. Jill, however, is increasingly alarmed by her husband’s unaccountable — and potentially damaging — obsession.
Goold is fond of tight close-ups and ambiguous expressions which certainly keep the audience guessing as Longo’s trial approaches.
The film contains disturbing images of death and some profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103