Friday, April 17, 2015
The film starts with a horrific scene of recovering a suitcase that contains a girl's body from a river. Her father Christian Longo (James Franco) is wanted as the suspect for killing his wife and his three young children. Not long into the film, he is captured in Mexico and brought back to Oregon for trial.
Meanwhile, a rising The New York Times reporter Michael Finkel is fired (Jonah Hill) for fabricating a character in his story about slavery in Africa. Michael retreats back to Montana to be with his girlfriend Jill (Felicity Jones). When he gets a call from an Oregon reporter who tells him that the captured Christian Longo has been living under his identity, Michael Finkel's journalist instinct immediately kicks in. He hopes that if he can uncover the truth from the mysterious Christian Longo, he may bring back his credibility and rebuilds his career.
Against conventional wisdom, Michael Finkel makes frequent correspondences with Christian Longo until the end of the trial. During the process, Michael Finkel reflects on himself and makes candid confession to Christian Longo for the mistake he made. But can he get the truth in return from Christian Longo?
The director Rupert Goold makes a striking opening of the film and quickly grabs our attention with a devastating yet mysterious crime story he is about to tell. It's like a great pilot episode of a new TV series and you can't wait to see what's going to follow. It grippingly sets up a high bar and hints that there has more substance to come.
Unfortunately, that high hope never becomes materialized. Despite good performances by Jonah Hill and James Franco, the film fails to explore deeper into the mental world of Christian Longo, and it is also not successful in portraying the transition of Michael Finkel's attitude toward Christian Longo.
In the film, Michael Finkel has high hope for a breakthrough to regain his credibility as a journalist while seeking redemption by unearth the truth of a heinous crime. Similarly, the film also has a high ambition and sets up for an earthshaking drama to unfold. However, the truth often winks at us, but not in a nice way.