Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On the Grift; or, My Review of Confidence

Tonight, I decided to re-watch the film Confidence starring Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, and Dustin Hoffman. 5 years after it's initial release, and in my opinion, the film still holds up. A great script with a wonderful cast, and tight pacing and direction drive this underrated flick.

Confidence came out in 2003, and I really think part of the reason for it's underrated status is a product of timing. The film plays like an R rated version of Ocean's 11, and being just a couple years behind it, I think a lot of people thought it was a copy cat of a movie, and passed on it. Now while I will agree there are similarities between the two, they really are quite different in tone and feel. Ocean's 11 is very glitzy, tongue-in-cheek and Vegas. Confidence is a little grittier, harsher, streetwise. Both are polished, snappy and funny; but while Ocean's does it with a wink and a nod, Confidence does it with more of a wry grin.

A film like this truly relies on everyone involved knowing their roles and playing their parts to perfection. Just like pulling a con, if any one part falls short, the whole thing collapses. This all starts with the writer. Doug Jung crafted a very tight, and well paced script that twists and turns like a mountain road. The dialog is quick and biting, and believable. I was rather surprised when I looked up Doug Jung on IMDB that he hasn't written more movies. A few TV shows, and another movie coming soon, but I would have expected a couple more under his belt given how well written this one was.

James Foley's direction is also spot on. He does a great job of crafting the script in to a film that is very much a con. Realistic and believable, yet upon subsequent viewings, you see the layers to the narrative and the little quirks that can tip you off to the plot twists and turns ever so subtly.

The cast is truly the heart of a film like this. If you can't buy that these people, you can have the greatest script since The Usual Suspects, and it won't matter. Thankfully, that's not the case here. Edward Burns pulls off the cocky grifter as if he's not even trying to. Rachel Weisz is likable as always for me, you're never really sure if she's playing a scene honestly, or as a grift. Paul Giamatti is wonderful as always. I've always like him in any role he's in, but he's at his best when he's wise-cracking and sarcastic. Dustin Hoffman is a bit over the top, but because it's Hoffman, it doesn't feel like it's too much. A lesser actor would have just felt too campy, Hoffman gives off a different vibe. Brain Van Holt is under utilized, which is a bummer for me personally because I really like his work. Donal Logue and Luis Guzman are fun as LA cops on the take, and Andy Garcia is having a blast as a slightly nutty, off kilter special agent. And check out Leland Orser in the beginning of the movie doing his standard yelling and crazy persona. Always fun.

All in all, I feel Confidence stands up to the better known Ocean's 11 in many ways, while still being it's own movie. A strong script, great cast, and tight editing and direction make this one I bring out every so often to re-watch and enjoy


Diamond Dave said...

the film had one problem. Ed Burns. The guy just plain sucks. Same Mr Cool act in every movie he's in ( most of which he has to write and direct cos no-one else will hire him ). Brothers McMullen?? Same old Irish family members arguing movie Ive seen a 100 times. Ash Wednesday? Unwatchable. The Groomsmen ? McMullen redeux.
He was acceptable in Saving Private Ryan. Otherwise he's just a B-list pretty boy who squints a lot - kind of a male Renee Zellwegger.

Travis said...

That's a fair assessment. Although I liked him in this flick because of the Mr. Cool act. I can see how it would get very old in every movie. He was way out shined by Giamatti and Van Holt if you ask me. I really want to see Brian Van Holt get some good roles. He was awesome in Basic