True Story is a true story about a grisly crime, and the aftermath of those trying to gain something from it.
According to the Atlantic, True Story centers around two main characters. Christian Longo, played by James Franco, killed his wife, MaryJane, and his children, Zachery, Sadie, and Madison, then disposed of their bodies into the ocean near Newport, Oregon. The other character in True Story is Mike Finkel, played by Jonah Hill, who wrote a book on Longo’s crimes. Finkel is not so innocent, either. Formerly a freelance writer, Finkel was discovered to have fabricated an interview he did on a story about child slavery in Africa while writing for the New York Times.
Finkel was terminated from his job after the fabrication was discovered. While looking for his next job, Finkel gets a call, saying someone was impersonating him. It turns out that Longo, after murdering his family and disposing of the bodies, fled to the Yucatan area and assumed Finkel’s identity.
Finkel, seeing an opportunity for a story and perhaps a book, began visiting Longo in prison, and Longo tells Finkel that he has never killed anyone. Then in court, Longo pleads guilty to the murder of his wife MaryJane and daughter Madison. The other two children, according to Longo, were killed by his wife.
The Mail Tribune is reporting that based on their initial meeting in prison, a relationship initially is struck. The problem is that relationship is based on trust, and neither Longo nor Finkel brought that to the table to begin with. Regardless, a deal is struck: Finkel would provide tips to Longo about writing and Longo would answer Finkel’s questions regarding Longo’s involvement in the murders of his family.
True Story is, in part, a movie about second chances. For Finkel, True Story may bring to him the project that will validate his career again after causing his own decline. For Longo, he is continually given chance after chance to come clean and put his family’s misery to rest. Longo continually dodges and denies that he committed four murders until much later. Yet, even in denying he murdered his family, Longo exudes an uneasiness about him as if he’s still hiding something.
The trust issue begins to show itself later in True Story. The man who made himself a pariah looking and fighting for retribution; the other, constantly dodging whether or not he committed the murders. While he was denying any kind of wrongdoing, his past reflects a wanderer surviving on cunning, guile, and criminal activity.
A true indicator of Longo’s narcissism is after he was sentenced to death in 2006. In 2011, Longo requested permission to marry a fellow female inmate. When an uproar over his conjugal marriage began, Longo removed the request, saying he wanted to prove that the parole board routinely denies his requests. True story.
[Image courtesy of Central Maine]