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Movie Review

'True Story' Is A Real Mystery


I'm neither embarrassed nor afraid of spoilers when I admit that I didn't understand everything that went on in the new Jonah Hill and James Franco movie True Story, because I don't think I was supposed to understand it all.

Jonah Hill is investigating James Franco, and he certainly doesn't find answers to all the questions that come up. Franco has apparently murdered a couple of people, or maybe four, just possibly eight, but maybe nobody at all, and he may be lying or amnesiatic or both. And there are suggested interpretations along all those lines, plus some less important mysteries, all linked into a tantalizing pattern that keeps threatening to become clear. And it all claims to be a true story-- I'm waiting for the next printing of the book it's based on.

Most of True Story consists of Hill trying to get Franco to tell the truth, if he can, and what Franco is trying to do is mysterious. He certainly isn't trying to get himself out of trouble, and I suspected a psychological problem, but there also seems to be a paranormal connection between the two. The situation is not clarified by unnecessary shifts between present and past, the real and the perhaps imaginary, but they can be safely ignored.

There are some genuine surprises. Watch for Felicity Jones' one big scene for the bit that most startled me. And keep in mind the details of the opening sequence, which is more relevant than you probably think, because True Story actually holds together better than you'll expect, and more than a lot of movies do nowadays.