U.K. theater director Rupert Goold makes his feature film debut with True Story, which premiered at Sundance a few weeks ago to mixed reviews. The picture follows disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) and his investigation into accused murderer Christian Longo (James Franco), who killed his wife and three children in December 2001. Distributed by Fox Searchlight, the picture has a Kill the Messenger vibe to it in that it follows a real-life story about a journalist who wants to uncover the truth – but the hook to this film is that Longo was telling people he was Finkel up to and during his arrest. In one of the most unsettling identify theft cases ever, the deeper Finkel goes into Longo’s story, the more puzzle pieces he’s forced to put together, leaving everyone wonder what the truth really is.
Production began filming in Warwick, New York in March 2013, and helping to frame the narrative was cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi (Silver Linings Playbook, Out of the Furnace). Just from the trailer alone, you can see how the visuals are flavored with a practiced eye, mixing tone and color palettes to the backdrop with careful consideration. We’re brought into a world where nothing is ever particularly bright or saturated with color, and often cold like the New York winter. The muted color schemes resonate the emotions of the narrative – especially during the scenes inside prison walls. Technically, Takayangi looked to 35mm film for the project, pairing Arricam LT and 235 cameras with Zeiss Master Primes, and when we reached out to him to talk about the project, he let us know he was back in the lab giving it an additional pass.
John Morris, Ryan Collins, and Mariusz Glabinski created the sound design, with supervising sound editor Leslie Shatz leading the post sound team that included rerecording from Wildfire Studios. Mixer Drew Kunin captured the production sound on the main unit with booms Chris Fondulas and Claire Houghtalen. The editors were Christopher Tellefsen and Nicolas de Toth, with visual effects supervisor Eric Robertson providing the story’s subtle changes.
It’s nice to see Hill playing another dramatic role – he was profound in The Wolf of Wall Street and now he’s back again with Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Pitt’s production company co-produced Moneyball, in which Hill co-starred as Peter Brand; will he be just as good here? You’ll have to wait and see on April 10, 2015 when the film gets its release.