True Story (2015)

(Video on Demand, August 2015)  Having both James Franco and Jonah Hill headline a film would suggest a comedy, but True Story is far from being lighthearted and, as such, represents a bit of a departure for two actors who, while having demonstrated some dramatic chops in the past, are usually associated with big laughs.  Revolving around a tragic multiple murder, a journalist disgraced by accusations of invention and sociopathic manipulation, True Story feels stark and grim, especially when it starts poking at viewer assumptions.  Based on indeed,  a true story, the film can be a fascinating case study of two actors circling each other like their characters, never trying to betray the harsh source material through ill-placed comic relief.  Its last fifteen minutes feel like an extended nightmare, so twisted do the agendas become.  If the film has a flaw, it probably that we don’t quite get to feel the betrayal of the protagonist: True Story doesn’t invest much time in trying to make us believe in the initial lies, making some of the revelations feel flat.  Still, it’s a troubling film, and as the hero and the villain eventually stat matching wits, the film does get a bit better toward the end.  Both Hill and Franco do fine with dramatic roles, to the point where few will assume that their next film will be a comedy  

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