Release Date: April 17, 2015
Running Time: 100 minutes
Nothing should be more important to a journalist than maintaining the public trust. Not publishing a major scoop. Not scoring an exclusive interview. True Story unfolds as an occasionally essential cautionary tale about the need to respect and uphold the written and unwritten ethnics that journalists must abide by without fail. Director Rupert Goold’s compelling fact-based drama opens with Jonah Hill’s New York Times journalist Michael Finkel paying a source and then being fired by the newspaper for creating composite characters to make his African slave trade magazine cover story sizzle. From there, Goold recalls how Finkel attempted to regain his reputation by visiting accused murderer Christian Longo and collaborating with him on a book in the hope Longo would tell the truth about the brutal 2001 slaying of his wife and three young children in Oregon. The hook? Longo used Finkel’s name as an alias when he was arrested while on the run in Cancún. James Franco comes across as both amiable and sympathetic as Longo to the undiscerning eye. Finkel’s so caught up in exploiting Longo’s alleged crime—by writing a redemptive bestseller—that he fails to see what Franco allows us to see: a relentless, manipulative liar in need of an attentive advocate, one who will unwittingly push his agenda without question. Hill taps into Finkel’s desperation to reveal the danger a journalist faces when he gets too close to his source and puts so much faith in what he’s being told. However, Hill doesn’t make Finkel sharp enough to keep up with Longo. This results in a one-sided cat-and-mouse game that lacks dramatic impetus. Even when Finkel wises up, Goold continues to question the journalist’s willingness and ability to break free of Longo’s spell. Longo was convicted of the four killings and received a death sentence. Finkel has since revived his journalism career--True Story is based on his book about Longo—proving America will always give a second chance to someone who apologies for making a stupid, career-threatening mistake. Goold’s film, though, does Finkel no favors when it comes to depicting his relationship with Longo, one that continues to this day. For all its faults, True Story serves as a timeless reminder that journalists should keep their sources within arm’s distance.
Aired: April 16, 2015
Web site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/truestory/