In a prison in Oregon, Christian Longo (James Franco, on all fronts these last time !) is awaiting trial for murder on the persons of his wife and their children. In an isolated house in Montana, the journalist Mike Finkel (Jonah Hill) tries to climb back up the slope after having been dismissed for misconduct by his employer, the prestigious New York Times. Intrigued by the fact that the first is chosen to use his name as cover during the escape, the reporter in search of a coat of arms to turn around gets the idea of the meet.

Their verbal sparring is going to last for several months in an intense game of chess without pawns. As Christian reveals to him parts of his life, the obsession of Mike for his sentenced is growing disproportionately. Everyone is looking for connections, a link between them that could explain their fascination with each other. But nothing. Destiny. Two sheep almost lost finding their identity in the Nemesis, they create for themselves, in the course of their conversations. This is not by accident that Mike chose the title of a book he intends to write on Christian : the TRUE STORY.

A true story ? Not so sure. Christian Longo is reminiscent of this cartoon character, this wolf turned to ridicule, which is generally a sheep skin in order to infiltrate the flock he wants to devour. Is this a smile or is it these silences controls ? Difficult certainly to grant its confidence to a man accused of having strangled her daughter three years before the lay at the bottom of a river, concealed in a suitcase. At the other end of the spectrum of references, it is then found Hannah Arendt and her courageous Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), in which the philosopher spoke of the ” banality of Evil “, observing the paradox supreme : how is this man so puny, so common, Adolf Eichmann, a former nazi officer tried in Israel for crimes against humanity, could he have been such a monster ?

In agreeing to hear his story, Mike Finkel rewritten Christian Longo, has reinvented an identity. The fertility of their exchanges layer on the sterility of their environment, the whiteness of the cell, the corners of the hearing room, theopen space of the New York Times, fast left, or the snow of Montana. For them, existence becomes one of their discussions. Their only escape against the blank page that is their world, and they turn black together. Christian and Mike will write often, will allow one another to survive. Mike fulfils the promise narcissistic of an ordinary man who only wants the spotlight. Christian fulfills the promise of a new beginning for a journalist discredited by his mistakes. And when the law comes to remind Mike that he protects may be the intimacy of a guilty person, the latter refuses to share any information. Their bell-glass is that of a rare plant, of a plant, fragile and poisonous. A microclimate.

“It appears with the impression of having seen this a hundred times and yet to have gained access to the unpublished.”

Little by little, these two identities, first singular blend into a synthesis. James Franco and Jonah Hill are blurring the distinctive lines between them, their characters level, their set of actor addresses. What are Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson in Persona, Bergman, their faces mixed in the reflection of a mirror. By closing the eyes, one might even confuse their voices, no longer knowing who actually killed the kids or who plays on the voyeurism of that, that hunt on sight and that is earth. Around the table emerging a Mike Longo and a Christian Finkel, a journalist murderer and prisoner writer.

The great paradox of TRUE STORY then appears. This kind of clash dual, the mechanics of the ‘one-against-one’, may well be a foible of the film, the film renews the subject again and again. One emerges with the impression of having seen this a hundred times and yet to have gained access to the unpublished. An explanation of the mixed reviews received by the movie during its us release. Upon the next power on of the lights, the scrolling credits, the whole room has no matter what you say was a breathy, estomaquée of the experience and shared between compassion and disgust. Thrilled by the mystery in any case. There, it was said, a certain charm in this montage, which runs through the plans, exterior and close-ups anxious from the prison cell. He has a master’s degree, also in the pace at which things are revealed and the blurred areas are called into focus, one at a time. Sheet by sheet.

“Hands in hands//let’s Stay face-to-face//While under the bridge of our arms password//Of the eternal eyes, the wave if lasse”. In this film, award-winning at Sundance, one will also find a little of the poetry ofApollinaire (believe me). More than a thriller, it grants (and grant us) also moments of contemplation, of reflection, of breaks. Mike and Christian become like these love sad sung by the poet. On them, the company flows, violent. They will cut off from its realities, to enter a universe of their own, that their fears and their unhealthy desire for recognition. They do not realize, however, that by doing this they can no longer count only on themselves, putting the rest of the Men back. And one wonders therefore where is the point of no return, undoubtedly crossed here, between lying to someone by calculation and self-deception by spite.

Tom Johnson

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