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Overall Rating
3.17

Awesome: 6.94%
Worth A Look36.11%
Average: 26.39%
Pretty Bad: 27.78%
Total Crap: 2.78%

6 reviews, 36 user ratings


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Confidence
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by Chris Parry

"Someone went to a lot of effort to fool me. But I don't really care."
2 stars

Confidence misses the first rule of whodunnit filmmaking and never really recovers; if you want to fool me once, you have to at least give me a reason to give a damn that I've been fooled. The butler did it? Okay, that's fine, but unless the clues that pointed to the butler were there for me to discover or otherwise, the door to door salesman, the masseuse, the foreign exchange student and Mr Miyagi might just as well have been in on the caper. Surprise endings are a lot less surprising when they're pulled out of a filmmaker's ass, and Doug Jung, the screenwriter of Confidence, hasn't so much covered his tracks as failed to actually leave any. Like so many screenwriters before him, Jung forgot to give us characters that matter, neglected to leave us clues as to the surprise 'twist' and spends so much time trying to create a sub-plot to throw us off the scent that he damages the credibility of the entire package.

Jake Vig is a con artist. If you couldn't tell from his name, you can certainly tell from the first ten minutes of this film, in which Jake (Ed Burns) and his buddies (Paul Giamatti and Paul von Holt) dupe a suit out of a suitcase full of cash by constructing a bar room scenario in which it looks like things are going hellaciously wrong. A gun has gone off, a body lies on the floor, the cops are on the way, the bartender has a gun pointed at Jake, and Jake's pointing his piece right back at the bartender. It's a Mexican stand-off and the sirens are getting closer.

So what do we do? Do we leave? Do we fight? What's the score?

We do nothing. We stand, point our guns and play 'dicks at thirty paces' while the victim of the scam takes off, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars and a supposedly dead accomplice behind.

It's a neat trick, although it forgets one very important thing - every hundred thousand dollar haul leaves a very angry owner of said hundred thousand dollars behind. And in this case, the owner of said booty is a guy known as The King. And The King holds a grudge.

Standard set-up? Yeah, and it's a standard pay-off from there. Any reviewer worth his salt will tell you that the Narrator and the Flashback are two of the cheapest filmmaking tools around. Sure, they allow a writer and a director to progress their story simply without worrying about long scenes and backstory, but that's kind of why such moves are considered 'cheap'. A talented filmmaker will set up a character or a scene with pictures and dialogue, not a ghostly voice running over the whole scene, connecting the dots for you. And the flashback... Come on, is there really anything worse than starting a film with the end of that same film?

These tactics are just too easy, allowing a hack filmmaker to get away with shallow characterization and shallow situations with a little filmic flimflam that most in the audience won't consciously detect. And in Confidence, director James Foley and screenwriter Jung have bet the farm on both.

And that's why the film, though entertaining in parts and certainly ambitious at times, fails on most counts. 'Kooky' Burns is not the kind of actor that can pull of any role, and the charismatic thief is a role that might be best left in his 'do not attempt' column in future. Sure, he's good looking, and he can deliver his lines without too much strain, but next to accomplished actors like Paul Giamatti, he's all at sea. Giamatti, who has just kicked on and on from Safe Men to Man on the Moon to Storytelling to the recent American Splendor (despite a few sell-out roles in between) is the heart and soul of this piece. He's a constant reminder of what it could have been. He shows humanity and heart and realism, while Burns seems to be trying out for The Thomas Crown Affair 2.

Rachel Weisz too shines, as Jake's love interest, as she offers up a few moments of 'real' in what amounts to an overly shiny production. In a story of conmen who do it almost entirely for the love, surely the main characters should be a rough and tumble bunch who wouldn't look out of place in a surly bar, but director Foley has these guys so polished and Armani'ized that you'd have to think he was more worried about sex appeal than storyline.

And that's where Dustin Hoffman, as the King, comes in. Hoffman is an actor, pure and simple, but even Hoffman's presence can't turn this writing into gold. Writer Jung has a background in TV, and it shows as each situation is quickly and simply solved, and real danger seems to never be a bother to anyone.

If Confidence were a TV drama, it might pass muster. But it cost a whole lot more to make than a TV drama would, so you'd exepct a little more attention to the formula of good filmmaking than what's on display here. By no means awful, and even at times fun, the whole is a lot less than the sum of its parts.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6808&reviewer=1
originally posted: 01/05/04 14:08:26
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/14/11 PAUL SHORTT UNSATISFYING THRILLER DESPITE A GOOD CAST 2 stars
12/25/09 art YOU"D HAVE TO BE A CROOK,TO LIKE THIS MESS! 1 stars
6/16/09 Monday Morning I love caper films - this wasn't the best but IS worth watching. VERY stylish! 4 stars
5/16/07 Bitchflaps Too self-consciously slick for its own good, screenplay contrivances are obvious too. 2 stars
2/21/05 Agent Sands Not the 1st to conquer its premise or characters but it's sure great anyway. Badass finale! 5 stars
10/02/04 monica it's okay for a con artist movie 3 stars
8/06/04 Mark D Only Weisz is strong in this movie 3 stars
5/19/04 FrankB perhaps too stylish, but Hoffman is great 3 stars
2/01/04 Ingo Entertaining popcorn flick with flaws. 3 stars
1/03/04 Faith Only Rachel Weisz delivers a great performance in this bad film 2 stars
10/26/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng A wicked SCAM movie. James Foley is the MAN! 4 stars
8/21/03 Kim Not even the great performance of Rachel Weisz could save this film. 2 stars
7/24/03 Ben Rutherford Excellent, Fun, Great Cast 5 stars
7/22/03 Mr Mayer Other than the good perrformace of Rachel Weisz, the movie is not really worth it. 2 stars
6/26/03 Arlene Titshaw I did like OCEAN'S 11 pretty well, Wolf, but NOT this one. 2 stars
6/17/03 Ed Only Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman come out on top in a con that's not worth it. 3 stars
6/05/03 Erik Van Sant This overlooked crime caper is the coolest flick around. 5 stars
5/11/03 Steve Ellis Out of the good cast, Only Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz do well with what is givin. 3 stars
5/10/03 Wolf The "love scene" should have been left out, but if you liked Ocean's11 you'll like this one 4 stars
5/09/03 joey rome roll with it 4 stars
5/05/03 John Fine but flawed crime movie taken up a notch by a stand out performance by Rachel Weisz 4 stars
5/04/03 Edler Was basically a combo of all the previous grifter/con-man movies of the past 10 years 3 stars
5/02/03 Charlie Udon Good, Not Great. Agree with the majority, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman stole the show. 3 stars
5/02/03 Nancy Niedzielski I think Weisz was one of the best things in the movie, and she was awful. 'Nuff said? 3 stars
4/30/03 Jack Sommersby An American masterpiece that confirms James Foley as our greatest director. 5 stars
4/30/03 Ross Good caper with Rachel Weisz as the highlight of the whole film 3 stars
4/29/03 Andrew Carden Hoffman & Weisz Give Superb Performances In This Limp, Contrived Action Flick. 3 stars
4/28/03 Kelly I Loved it.... especially Ed Burns, he makes the movie !!!!!!! 5 stars
4/27/03 mike Entertaining, good, funny. The F-word gets used a bit much though. 4 stars
4/26/03 asfdfds fsaddsfafds 1 stars
4/21/03 Paige Top Notch Cast with scene stealing Dustin and Rachel as the highlights of the movie. 4 stars
4/15/03 Dead Ringers FX Rule! The actors and filmmaking were nice. Pretty weak story. Good twist on undeveloped story. 2 stars
4/07/03 Ben Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz Steal The show is this well crafted film. 4 stars
4/05/03 Frank Thomas Sorry, But Rachel Weisz Was the best thing in this so so movie. 2 stars
4/05/03 Jeff Smith Ok, Not great 3 stars
1/23/03 Sean Typical hiest movie that adds nothing to the genre 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Apr-2003 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-Jul-2003


Directed by
  James Foley

Written by
  Doug Jung

Cast
  Edward Burns
  Rachel Weisz
  Dustin Hoffman
  Andy Garcia
  Paul Giamatti
  Luis Guzmán



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