New York Times Magazine reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), a rising journalistic star that played poker like a champion because he could lie with a steely calm, was soon discovered to be doctoring the facts in his pieces. All it took was one slip up to topple the house of lies upon which his precarious position was balanced, and down he tumbled — from the dizzying heights of Manhattan back to the cold anonymous abyss of his home in Montana. And it would seem that Finkel was destined to remain there, if not for the hand of fate, embodied by Christian Longo (James Franco), a man accused of taking the lives of his family who set off on the run only to be captured in Mexico days later using the name “Michael Finkel” as his alias.
He was pretending to be the writer Michael Finkel and when he is finally caught, word gets back to the real Finkel, who recognizes the situation for what it is — an opportunity for him to take flight once more, to scale the journalistic heights anew. The timing of the release from director Rupert Goold, based on Finkel’s memoir (adapted by Goold and David Kajganich), is quite possibly a bit too deliciously on the nose, as the media chews on the hard gristle of the botched coverage of the UVA fraternity rape story in Rolling Stone. By the end, the hard truth is a question — who is the bigger creep? — and among the multiple-choice answers sits the audience. (R) Grade: B+