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Review: True Story

A vanity project, but engaging and well-acted

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Clowns get serious in the crime drama True Story, starring Jonah Hill as an arrogant reporter undone by a plagiarism scandal and James Franco as the accused murderer who was using his identity while on the lam. Arriving with little fanfare (it premiered at Sundance), make no mistake that this is yet another vanity project for the Apatow crew, but unlike the largely odious This Is the End—where is the demon that will take back the baffing power of these moderately talented people?—True Story is engaging and well-acted. Hill has yet to live up to his Oscar-nominated promise in Moneyball—his self-serious reputation has not helped you to want him to—and Franco is a living Urban Outfitters book section, but here they prove they can still act when they want to. This is essentially a two-hander in which Hill’s Mike tries to bury his own desperate ambition and make a human connection with this sociopath slash likely murderer—of his wife and three children—while Franco gets the fun part of slowly revealed crazy person. Poor Felicity Jones, as Mike’s girlfriend Jill, does her best with an underwritten part that at least culminates in a nice speech. Starkly, beautifully shot by Masanobu Takayanagi, director Rupert Goold keeps the pace slow and steady and the surprises close to the vest. A fine, engrossing procedural drama.

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