Opening 6 Aug 2015
While on the run for allegedly killing his wife and children, Christian Longo (James Franco) ironically assumes the identity of an investigative reporter, Michael Finkel, who just had been fired from The New York Times for fabricating parts of a cover story. Finkel (Jonah Hill) visits Longo at the high security prison where he is awaiting trial to find out why. Longo offers him a flattering and tempting deal: he will give him exclusive rights to the true story. In exchange he is asking that Finkel teach him how to write like a pro, and stipulates he can’t reveal the truth before the trial is over. Meetings and interviews follow. This happened in fact in 2001, and this film is based on Michael Finkel’s memoires.
Finkel upholds his end of the deal even when law enforcement is leaning on him. Sooner or later he will need to determine though, whether he is really “chosen,” or just “manipulated,” by Longo. Unfortunately the audience will grasp the truth much earlier than Finkel who, so it seems, is desperate to find a book-worthy story in all of this. He may not have found it, or script and direction are unwittingly mystifying the viewer to what the point of it all is. In spite of this, Franco gives an interesting performance, portraying Longo as charismatic and charming one moment, cruel and manipulative the next. (Carola A)