As I have been away recently my awareness for new movies coming out apart from the Terminators and Ant-Mans has been pretty limited. I caught the tail end of a trailer for True Story on the TV and was immediately intrigued. Mostly because this movie starring comedy favourites Jonah Hill and James Franco was about as far from that genre as you could get!
If I was in charge of casting for this movie I never would have chosen either of these lead actors, whilst both have done more serious roles in the past they are comedy actors first in my head. However, both actors do a tremendous job here. Jonah Hill is very believable as disgraced New York Times writer, Mike Finkel. Although for me it was Franco that stole the show as suspected murderer, Christian Longo. It was class to see both of these actors in such serious roles alongside one and other. Their chemistry was sweet here, and whilst different to their comedy films it worked just as effectively. Alongside the two male leads was Felicity Jones as Finkel’s partner Jill. She had a much more secondary role but she still performs well, she is the character that I feel the audience will relate to most. For most of the film she is sidelined and is, like the viewer, trying to piece things together and decide for herself what she thinks the truth is. The film has a good structure to it, almost being split into two halves. Firstly we get to know the characters and watch how they develop relationships followed secondly by the trial of Longo.
Accompanying this solid structure was an awesome creepiness throughout the film which resulted in me constantly being on the edge of my seat. This had much to do with the calmness of Longo conveyed brilliantly by Franco. His character was such an enigma and you literally had no clue what was coming next, this unpredictability was fantastic and made for an unshakeable air of tension throughout the movie. The film is however understated. It’s never as memorable or shocking as other great thrillers such as Seven or The Silence of the Lambs. I’ll admit that the film maybe doesn’t ever reach its full potential, although I guess this is due to the faithful re-telling of the true story. Despite this I thought that the mystery of the film was set up and played out so well as there were always different option to consider. For me the first half of the film was pretty perfect but as the second half unfolds it becomes more patchy and is unable to sustain the eerie tone that it had set. Nonetheless some of the best moments in the film come in the second half but the tone just wasn’t as consistent.
Even though it has flaws, True Story is one of my favourite thrillers in recent years. It has two great central performances and whilst many won’t think its anything special I think it was. I was engrossed in the characters and the case and like those in the film I was desperately seeking the truth. I can’t wait to re-watch this movie and piece together even more of the evidence and clues that the film hints at throughout. The great level of tension was a massive plus and as long as you expect a more understated film I don’t see why you won’t thoroughly enjoy this movie. In recent years I would have to say that Prisoners is my favourite thriller, since then not many have stood out to me but True Story is a notable edition to the genre.
Rating – 8.5/10