Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
In a remote village, two young men are talking to a journalist, explaining to him the horrible conditions they endure at work. The reporter introduces himself as “Mike Finkle – New York Times. Meanwhile, in Mexico, a woman tourist strikes up a conversation with a man she meets at a museum. Surprisingly, he also introduces himself as “Mike Finkle – New York Times.” Whaaaaaaaaaat?
A film with performances much better than its material, “True Story” tells the, presumably, true story of Christian Longo (Franco), a seemingly nice man who may or may not have murdered his family and his relationship with Mike Finkle (Hill) who is, you guessed it, a reporter for the New York Times. Their meeting comes when both are down on their luck. Finkle has been dismissed by the paper for, at the advice of his editor, jazzing up a recent story. Finkle visits Longo in prison to see why he impersonated him, with Longo telling him that he is a longtime admirer of his work. Longo agrees to chat with Finkle about his case, with the reporter figuring that “everybody deserves to have their story told.” Longo agrees to give Finkle an exclusive while Finkle agrees to help Longo write. However, as with most deals made with the devil, things don’t always go as planned.
As stated above, Franco and Hill do well, even though the story does neither of them any favors. I found it incredulous that a reporter with the reputation pointed out in the film as Finkle would lose his job over mis-identifying one of his subjects in his story. It wasn’t like he was Jayson Blair, a real NY Times reporter who plagiarized and fabricated dozens of stories (also made into a much better film called “Shattered Glass”). The more Finkle investigates the more you know Longo’s stories don’t make sense yet Finkle is so set on selling the story as a book that he just disregards any journalistic instinct he may have. The supporting cast is also strong, with Jones scoring as Finkle’s fiancée’.