True Story - Cinema Review

'Hill and Franco are two of a handful of 'against type' casting decisions that pay off handsomely for director Rupert Goold'

When Jonah Hill and James Franco sit across a table from each other - one dressed in smart-casual wear, the other in a recognisable orange jumpsuit - you begin to wait for the jokes to flow. Even thirty or so minutes in to True Story, when the two first meet in this manner, there's a nagging feeling somewhere that this is a film that will eventually reveal itself as a Comedy. Hill will have smuggled in a spliff and Franco will be in prison for stealing a goat whilst high.

Except, that isn't the point here. Hill and Franco are playing entirely straight as disgraced New York Times journalist Michael Finkel (Hill) and accused murderer Christian Longo (Franco), who passed himself off as Finkel whilst on the run.

The duo are two of a handful of 'against type' casting decisions that pay off handsomely for director Rupert Goold. Ethan Suplee also turns up as a quiet small town journalist, whilst Felicity Jones is Hill's marginalised wife. It's the two stars who are the attraction here though, showing off their 'proper' acting chops. Goold sells the scene where they meet as a meeting of acting titans (Franco's face is nearly hidden as he enters and Hill almost can't bear to look). It's not quite that, nor will Hill get a third Oscar nomination, as suggested by this film's review in the August issue of Empire, but they are both impressive.

That Franco and Hill are the reason for both coming and staying however, should point to deficiencies elsewhere. The script - by Goold, with input from David Kajganich, based on Finkel's book - can't decide what to do with its side characters and features such familiar ripeness as 'I don't presume anything any more'. Jones is particularly ill-served, reduced to an understanding wife who never leaves the house, only to be shoe-horned into the narrative late on in a manner that is hardly believable.

The two leads are enough to recommend it however, joining the list of ostensibly comedic actors who also have a litany of successful straighter turns. Goold also manipulates his audience well, mirroring his plot as you and Finkel decide whether or not to trust Longo's side of the story.

True Story is released in UK cinemas on Friday 24th July 2015.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.


  1. Great review! I'm bummed I missed this in theaters, so hopefully I catch it soon.

    1. Thanks Brittani! Hope you enjoy it, certainly a decent amount there to like.