True Story
By Guy Shepherd

Here's a true story: A guy turns on Netflix and finds a brilliant film called 'True Story'.

True Story


'True Story' is as much about its star as it is about its leading character.

No wonder 'True Story' is Kevin Hart at his best.

Kevin Hart shows real range as an actor in Netflix’s True Story. Remember Good Will Hunting as the film with Robin Williams as an actor and not a comedian? Well, True Story is Kevin Hart’s Good Will Hunting.

Spoiler Alert: True Story is not a true story.  It’s hard not to think it’s Kevin Hart playing Kevin Hart.  And this is what makes it so interesting.

True Story’s gift as a film is that it touches what is hidden even from ourselves.

The frame of the story could be Hart’s life.   A comedian on the top of the world much as he is.   A divorced Dad—who works hard but always makes time for his kid.  And on good terms with his ex—not just simply for the kids but from a reserve of love and respect.  A guy living a life of celebrity but rooted in family, where he came from, and the fans that such a life is  built on.  This all sounds like the Kevin Hart that the world knows and loves.

Eric Newman, the creative mind behind Narcos: Mexico—sets the script and stage for the situational tweaking of a character that we thought we knew.  “Seeing is given to everyone and touching to a few,” as Machiavelli tells his Prince.  True Story’s gift as a film is that it touches what is hidden even from ourselves.  

The opening starts in the deep end of the pool.  The Kid is having a moment of Othello-like introspection.  You really think you can know someone?  Really know someone?  In the head?  In the heart?   How they will react with their back’s up against the wall?   This is delivered as a deep internal dialogue.   

Where it departs from Hart’s life is in how Hart’s character deals with a career- and life-ending plot wrinkle produced by his prodigal, covetous brother. This shows a depth and a darkness of character, both of which Kevin Hart masters in his performance.

A shout-out to Wesley Snipes in his role of the “Kid’s Brother”  Carlton.  You can’t help disliking the moment he enters and there is not a bit of remorse when he departs.  Carlton is a-player-in-his-own-mind who thinks that he has a claim of the fruits of this younger brother’s earned success.  Also, Billy Zane gives a home-run performance as Ari, a Greek gangster with a  wicked sense of  humor who too lacks a respect for The Kid’s earned success. That becomes his tragic undoing.

If there is a truth in True Story, this is it: talent and a blood-toil-tears-and-sweat work ethic is what lifts you to the stars and keeps you there  And when you try to take from a man what is his, rightfully earned—even if he can afford paying the tax—he just might surprise you and put it all on the line and fight you for it.    

And not only that, get away with it. 

Planned Man gives True Story three thumbs up!  


Good for you Netflix for doing this Project:  Roger Ebert in his review of True Story captures—and does his best to cultivate—the culture of un-forgiveness that presently possesses too many of those at the top of the media pile and the swarm of  Twitterati trolls.  Not to mention, Ebert gives too much of the suspense away.

Mr. Newman—I really think this framing of yours has legs.   (I have an idea for a True Story of sorts that I am happy to share).   Also, you show that good film-making can be done on a small budget.   A seven-part series that uses the same hotel suite as it’s primary stage would make Hitchcock smile.

As a fan of Sons of Anarchy, it was great to see Theo Rossi in True Story, playing a fan without a life as believably as he plays a biker who takes lives.  Few actors can say more with with eyes than Rossi.