True Story


True Story is a 2015 American mystery thriller film directed by Rupert Goold and written by Goold and David Kajganich. Based on the memoir of the same name by Michael Finkel, the film stars Jonah Hill and James Franco. Other actors include Felicity Jones, Gretchen Mol, Betty Gilpin, and John Sharian.

Franco plays Christian Longo, a man on the FBI's most wanted list for murdering his wife and three children in Oregon. He hid in Mexico under the identity of Michael Finkel, a journalist, played by Hill.[3] The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically on April 17, 2015 in the United States. The film explores the relationship that develops between the two men after the journalist Finkel begins to meet with Longo in prison.

True Story Trailer

True Story – Themes & Elements


• Second chance
• Lies & Truth
• Success
• Journalism
• Biography
• Power
• Manipulation
• Family


• Colour
• Characters
• Setting
• Lighting
• Sound
• Point of view
• Acting
• Editing & Camera Technique
• Opening / Development / Resolution
• Multiple storylines

Questions to prompt thinking about the film text, ‘True Story’

1. Why was the colours ORANGE, WHITE & NAVY constantly employed through the text?

2. Audience reception would play a huge role in this text, due to the face that it is a True Story and currently Christian Longo is on Death Row. How does the Director get the audience to be confused on Christian's guilt?

3. One of the final questions asked to the protagonist Michael was, 'What did you lose along the way'? What did this mean? How was it connected to the narrative?

4. What role did the girlfriend Jill play in the narrative?

5. Why were silhouettes employed in this narrative? What meaning to do they provide to the audience?

6. The number 2 appeared at various stages within the text. What meaning did this send out to the audience?

7. The following motifs were displayed through the narrative, Teddy bear, Asthma pump, Colours - white, orange & navy blue, the number 2. Can you think of any others?

Director with James Franco

Interview - Finkel on Longo

Well written example – By Student

Give an example of how one of the following production elements helps to establish and develop characters and relationships between characters in the narrative.

• Camera/film/video techniques and qualities
• Sound
• Acting

In True Story, camera techniques are used to develop the relationship between Longo and Finkel, as well as reveal their individual character traits. The close ups employed in their meetings at the jail expose the subtleties that illuminate Longo’s narcissistic nature. His brown eyes are often positioned in the centre of the frame during a close up, and hint at his conceited nature, as they appear untroubled and challenging despite his accused crimes, suggesting insincerity. The close ups of Mike linger on his face long enough for the audience to suspect his conscience is squirming, insinuating his weakness of uncertainty. Switching directly between the two close ups juxtaposes Longo’s arrogance with Mike’s doubt and insecurity, emphasizing their differences. The mid shots of the two characters seated at the jail table frames Longo and Finkel with equal emphasis on both bodies, suggesting their relationship is not dominated by one or the other. This idea does not parallel the inequities highlighted by the close ups, and subsequently confuses the audience, and makes them question the nature of the relationship, and its sincerity.