Christian Longo (James Franco) is arrested in Mexico after supposedly killing his wife and daughters. While being arrested, he claims that he is Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), a writer for the New York Times. After being told about the identity theft by a reporter, Finkel becomes intrigued by Christian and goes to meet with him in prison. Christian claims that he is innocent. After several meetings, Finkel begins to believe Christian’s innocence.
When the case goes to trial, Christian gets up and tells his version of the story. He claims that he killed his wife and mercy-killed his daughter, after finding out his wife killed their other two daughters. Christian is sentenced to death. While being taken into custody, Christian smiles and winks at Finkel, proving that Christian has been lying to Finkel about being innocent the whole time. Finkel writes a book, entitled “True Story”, and while reading from his book at an event, he hallucinates Christian standing in the back of the room. The end titles reveal that Finkel never wrote for the New York Times again, but that Christian has had several of his writings on death row published by the Times.