True Story Review - Franco/Hill Docu-Drama Scores Stunning Box Office Win

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

TRUE STORY, from Fox Searchlight Pictures and New Regency/Plan B Production, present a chilling docu-drama highlighting the heinous, sadistic murders of MaryJane Longo and her three children at the hands of her now convicted husband.

Directed by Rupert Goold, TRUE STORY stars James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones, Gretchen Mol, Robert John Burke and Ethan Suplee and was adapted for the screen by Goold and David Kajganich based in the book by Michael Finkel.

TRUE STORY opens with a child, a sleeping curly haired little girl, no more than three, curled in a suitcase, a teddy bear is dropped beside her. The same suitcase is seen sinking into freezing waters of Puget Sound, the camera pans the luggage as it falls, a desperate struggle begins, as the child attempts to free herself from her prison resulting in a small tear.

TRUE STORY then cuts to New York Times reporter, Michael Finkel, in Africa scribbling furiously as his interpreter explains the shocking exploited lifestyle children laborers face every day. Questioning the boys, the aggressive reporter, clearly onto something, jots down notes, of this one, that one, stories blending, no longer a separate group of boys the story becomes a combination of facts with a single subject.

Immediately the story cuts to South America, a stranger, impersonating New York Times Reporter Michael Finkel, is attempting to light a candle, a universal sign of contrition for known and unknown sins, unable to work the antiquated coin operated machine, a German female tourist assists. The two spend the night together.

Soon Michael Finkel, played by Jonah Hill, is sitting in the New York Times conference room as his editor Karen Hannen, played by Gretchen Mol, demands he produce the notes that contributed to the story. As someone who has graced seven New York Times Sunday Magazine covers this story, like the others, has gathered the attention of global agencies. He is stunned; unable to distinguish singularities of each child, the facts become unsupported embellishments and he is terminated.

The Mexican authorities accompanied by FBI Agent Greg Ganley, played by Robert John Burke, pull up as the Michael Finkel impersonator Christian Longo, played by James Franco, is watching from a cheap motel balcony. He is arrested and escorted back to the states.

The two lives had no chance of intersecting until circumstances misunderstandings on one side, heinous, violence on the other bring them on a collision course.

TRUE STORY is genuinely engaging, based on the heinous murder of Mary Ann Longo and her three beautiful children, Zach, Sadie and Madison, at the hands of her now convicted husband. The facts within the screenplay center on the relationship between disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel and cold blooded convicted murderer Christian Longo.

As Hollywood usually shies away from portraying the murder, especially the violent murder, of children, it was shocking to see the beginning scenes. The nature of the crimes and the filming choices of the opening scenes are dramatic and anchor the attention.

Autopsy photos are shown, with snapshots of bloated faces, chilling testimony, most of which is  true and actually remained in script.

I remember this case following the details on FBI or Forensic Files one of the True Crime television shows. The nature of the crime, considered most heinous and diabolic by the federal agents investigating, went further than then presented in the film.

The wife, considered very modest, professed lifelong Christian beliefs, her children were also raised with a belief in the Christian doctrine. The husband, a con artist, infiltrated the church, married Ms. Longo and faked his beliefs until he could take no more, and according to the FBI stripped his wife, in his last act of hatred, so that when she was found she would be discovered naked. His hatred so evident even after death he caused her, believing the world would see her naked, the ultimate humiliation.

TRUE STORY presents an honest accounting of a true crime, monstrous and pure evil in nature, which remains fresh even as sentenced has been pronounced and the loose end apparently tied neatly. The family remains in distress, desperately missing the three lovely children who were carried in the dark of night to their death.

By the film’s end one is left wondering how the system allows animals like this to walk among the rest of us. It is stunning.

James Franco and Jonah Hill create an on-screen chemistry that capture the desperate ambitious need both men seek.

Finkel, to be known, to be back on top at all cost, nothing is scared, especially three dead children and a non-descript wife, to cloud the visions of futures believed deserved. The illusions that the dead, dying or those below the poverty line are stepping stones in the jungle to assist the fallen regain their pinnacle is vividly portrayed by Hill.  Longo, masterfully finds Finkel’s Achilles heel and wedges himself deeply into it and piggybacks the fame parlaying into his own.

Felicity Jones plays long suffering girlfriend/wife, Jill Barker, of Michael Finkel, who in one moment rises from the pall her lover remains under and explains in a stunning scene with Franco, she has eyes that do see.

James Franco digs into the deep places as he, once again, nails the diabolical. His portrayal of Christian Longo, the misunderstood, calm, wrongly accused, sadistically ambitious, devote Christian, has got to be one of the most chilling certainly in recent film history.

TRUE STORY opens April 17, 2015. Check Local listings.

Haute Tease

  • King Jack Review – Moving Portrayal of a Bullied Life in Rural America

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    King Jack, from Whitewater Films and Buffalo Picture House, brings to the screen the story of how lives in a small southern town interweave and the inescapable class ceiling that fits airtight over the disenfranchised.

     
  • Prince William, Kate and Business Mogul Renzo Rossi Partner with CharityStars.com, The U.K.’s Leading Charitable Foundation, To Raise Funds, Awareness

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    With a little less than 72 hours available to bid on Prince William and Kate's Range Rover, CharityStars.com has introduced their newest campaign with Business Mogul Renzo Rossi raising funds for earthquake ravaged Italy.

     
  • For the Man with Everything – Fly Jets or Race at Indy with CXC Simulation Motion Pro II

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Looking for the perfect gift for the man with everything? The quest for what to get Dad for Father’s Day? Well, there’s no need to search high and low for that special present. At a place where masculinity meets high-tech virtual realism, you’ll find CXC Simulations’ Motion Pro II.

     
  • HL Wellness: Do You Need A Therapist -These 5 Signs Point to Yes

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    You lose a loved one, a job, a relationship, a pet or get into an accident, have an injury, gain weight, have a baby, return from war or experience something else that just rattles you to your core. You know something isn’t right, you feel a bit off, but continue living your life thinking you’ll get over it. We all have been there and often with time we do get over it, sort of.

     
  • Start the Grilling Season with Cooking In Everyday English: The ABC's of Great Flavor at Home

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Cooking In Everyday English: The ABC’s of Great Flavor at Home written by, celebrity chef and restaurateur, Todd English is the promised land for the home schooled, harnessing your inner chef, culinary challenged gourmet. 

     
  • Ten Top Gourmet Food Shops and Eating Establishments in the Latin Quarter Revealed

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Stepping into a Paris restaurant can be a formidable experience for any traveler. Not only do you have to make your wishes understood by a waiter who may or may not speak your language, but you must quickly learn how to adapt to local dining customs as well.

     
  • Op/Ed: Our Proud Flag – An Opinion From The Hilltop Doc

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    I’ve recently read in newspapers and seen on news reports that protesters, justifiably unhappy with racial bias in our country, are expressing their concerns by disrespecting our American flag and national anthem. This display of anger and frustration is misdirected. 

     
  • Under Fire: Journalists In Combat – A Brutally Accurate Documentary from Martyn Burke

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    UNDER FIRE: JOURNALISTS IN COMBAT, a brutally accurate documentary from novelist and Director Martyn Burke, chronicles the aftermath of War Correspondents as they cope with psychological trauma sustained on the front lines. 

     
  • Mystery Buyer, In Dramatic Fashion, Purchases Beverly Hills Mansion of Late Steamy Queen of Romance Novelist Jackie Collins

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Queen of Hollywood romance, steamy sex and scandal novels, author Jackie Collins, took her readers to Hollywood behind the scenes, even if fictionalized. Though born and raised in London, Jackie followed her older sister, actress Joan Collins, to Tinseltown in the 1960s.

     
  • Tosaly’s Kamaria Heels - Hello Lover and Welcome Home

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Now taking center stage as my favorite “it” footwear is Tosaly’s “Kamaria” heel. Conceived by the “well-heeled” luxury British designer, Toyin Salami, the Kamaria is a tried-and-true statement shoe handmade by master artisans using modern techniques.

     
  • ARTHUR CHRISTMAS and Sony Pictures Animation Partner With Marines Toys For Tots Campaign

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    ARTHUR CHIRSTMAS, SONY PICTURES and Aardman Productions Holiday Theatrical Release, has partnered with the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation in a quest to create a very special Christmas for every child, everywhere.

     
  • The Nation Enables Whistleblowers, Embraces Encryption, With Confidential Tips Page

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Long a home for adversarial accountability journalism in its 150-plus-years of publication, The Nation is doubling down in the era of Trump. We've launched a confidential tips resource to further our mission of speaking truth to power.   

  • Op/Ed: The Children, the Caravan, and Health

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Recent border clashes produced shocking images that triggered condemnation from many who failed to realized there are three aspects to the caravan: what is shown by the media; what is there to be seen; and what is unseen.

     
  • Borgo Santo Pietro In Tuscany, Italy Redefines 'Ultimate Seclusion' With Unveiling Of New Suites

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Five-star boutique hotel and estate Borgo Santo Pietro in Tuscany, Italy redefines its concept of 'ultimate seclusion', unveiling two magnificent 84.3 m2 pool house suites, each endowed with its own exclusive pool, and two luxuriously private garden suites.

     
  • LUXE Rodeo Drive Hotel Earns Prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Rating

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS (June 30, 2014) –The Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Rating.  AAA, a not-for-profit federation that services more than 53 million members in the United States and Canada, approves only five percent of its 29,000 properties for this distinction.