It’s Difficult To Tell the Whole Truth in Biopics

It seems like almost every day that another biopic comes out. There’s an announcement of yet another “never before seen story.” And, we cannot get enough of them.

The words “based on a true story” fading onto the screen only draws your attention closer, captivating your thoughts with the idea that what’s about to take place actually happened.

It makes the viewing experience more enchanting. However, it may not be quite as fascinating for the real people that the biopics are based on.

The negative reviews

The box office hit “Hustlers” is based on a New York Magazine profile of strippers who stole money from wealthy men. Jennifer Lopez plays the main character Ramona, the ringleader of the entire scheme.

Samantha Barbash, the real Ramona, told Vanity Fair that she “wasn’t really that impressed” with the film.

In the movie, Ramona drugs a few men from Wall Street, using a homemade concoction to knock them unconscious.

However, Barbash claimed it didn’t happen. She said she never drugged anyone in her life, and she wouldn’t know how to make the formula that the fictional character Ramona did.

Similarily, Gypsy Rose Blanchard disapproved of Hulu’s “The Act,” a biopic series.

In an email to Bustle, Blanchard wrote, “I feel it is very unfair and unprofessional that producers and co-producer Michelle Dean has used my actual name and story without my consent, and the life rights to do so.”

Her cousin, Bobby Pitre, told Radar that Blanchard’s cousins “hate all of it.”

“They don’t know why people keep making stories about it,” he said.

Even the beloved movie “The Blind Side” has disappointing reviews from the main character and real-life football player, Michael Oher. The movie focuses on a mother’s adoption, played by Sandra Bullock, of a homeless teenager who later makes it to the NFL.

According to Oher, the movie has “taken away from my football.”

“They don’t really see the skills and the kind of player I am.”

The success stories

The new Netflix show “Unbelievable” tells the real story of a woman named Marie charged with filing a false police report on a rape that she suffered through.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning article originally told the story. Marie said that she believed the show was “excellent.”

“Seeing him get put away,” she said. “That was closure for me.”

The entertainment business

Yes, the entertainment business makes these biopics to inform and to tell a story. However, the fact is that the industry’s primary objective is to entertain. It is an unfortunate reality that every detail cannot make it into the final cut.

Real people are complex. Their stories carry multiple versions of the same truth. Generally speaking, writers must choose a single story to tell. Even more difficult, they have to condense it into a version that is both entertaining and easier to absorb.

Treating people’s stories with care

With everything said, these people and their true stories need to be heard. The writers, directors and producers need to listen. They need to feel that their stories are understood and are handled with care and empathy.