There’s no dismissing Jonah Hill after the double knockouts of 'Moneyball' and 'The Wolf of Wall Street', two movies that allowed himto go deeper. His smart choices continue with this real-life drama based on a memoir by disgraced New York Times journalist Michael Finkel, who played fast and loose with the facts and found himself exiled back home in snowy Montana. Redemption glitters on the horizon when Finkel learns that an accused child murderer has been using his identity. But once we see James Franco in the orange prison garb, 'True Story' makes a calamitous dip into obviousness: It required another cipher of an actor to complete its shame circle but instead got a cool Cheshire cat.
Debuting feature director Rupert Goold at first seems on a path of intriguing surreality, staging his verbal mano a mano in a spotless jail that feels more like an abstract state of mind. Even when True Story hits its stodgy courtroom finale, you’re hanging on the possibility of Hill’s Finkel having a complete ideological meltdown, having grown too close to his ticket back to the big time. Yet 'In Cold Blood' this is not. It’s made with too much slickness, and you’ll be way ahead of it.