Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: True Story

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: True Story

Article excerpt

True Story

15, Nationwide

True Story is based on the book True Story , which is itself based on a true story, so there is a lot of truth knocking about, I guess you could say, but absolutely none of it is at all interesting. It sounds as if it will be fascinating, as it's about the disgraced New York Times reporter Mike Finkel's relationship with Christian Longo, a man accused of murdering his wife and three children, but it goes absolutely nowhere. At one stage someone says to Finkel about Longo, 'He doesn't deserve to have his story told,' to which Finkel replies, 'Everyone deserves to have their story told,' to which I would have said, had I been asked, 'None of you deserves to have your story told. Now, all of you, go away and behave.'

This is a first film directed by Rupert Goold, the highly acclaimed British theatre director, but it shows surprisingly scant visual flair, as it relies too heavily on redundant flashbacks that add nothing to the story, and redundant scenes -- why, as one character was typing at his laptop, was another shown playing the piano? It kicks off with a teddy falling in slo-mo to signify children have been slain (if it's not a teddy, it is usually a doll). But rather than capturing a falling teddy -- or a doll, had it been a doll -- someone on this film might have better asked, 'What's in this for the audience? Why are we making this? Why, why, why?'

It opens while Finkel (Jonah Hill) is still at the New York Times . He is one of their star magazine writers. 'You've had nine covers in three years,' says his girlfriend Jill (Felicity Jones) admiringly, although my first thought was, 'They hardly overwork them there. I'm off!' However, once his feature on the slave trade in Africa is discovered to be, at least in part, an Untrue Story, he's sacked. 'You have a great future ahead of you, Mike,' says the editor, 'but it isn't here.' The script is riddled with such clichés. I think someone even says, 'But you can never escape who you are.' (Aside from anything else, this is decidedly false. After two bottles of wine, for example, I find I can escape who I am quite nicely.)

Finkel retreats to his home in Montana, which he shares with Jill, who is supportive and dull (a completely thankless role for Jones, who has to play the piano while he types), and where his magazine covers hang framed on the wall. …

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