Jake (Edward Burns) is a sharp and polished grifter, who together with his team Gordo (Paul Giamatti), Shills (Brian Van Holt) and corrupt LAPD officers Lloyd (Donal Logue) and Omar (Luis Guzman), have successfully swindled millions from an unsuspecting mark. But when Lionel is found dead, Jake discovers that he is, or was, an accountant for eccentric crime boss Winston King (Dustin Hoffman). Jake quickly offers to repay ‘The King’ by pulling off the ‘mother of all cons’, and recruits female pickpocket Lily (Rachel Weisz) to be part of the team. And then Jake’s old nemesis, FBI agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia) turns up hot on his heels.
Review by Louise Keller:
Everybody’s got an angle in Confidence, a super scam flick with twists galore and a cool and classy cast. The whole film has an edginess about it – from the way the story is told to the sharp editing and booming close ups that get us close and personal with all the characters. But ultimately, it’s the characters that get to us – they are all so wonderfully drawn and somehow each one interests us in some way. First of all, there’s Jake, who’s as slick as they come when it comes to a swindle. He is cool and collected, always waiting to collect, and in the hands of debonair Edward Burns, his character is played just right. His complete nemesis is ‘The King’ (beautifully played by Dustin Hoffman), who is sleaze personified. He talks at a million miles an hour, suffers from ADD and has a phobia about everything. The scene in which we meet him is highly memorable. Jake is escorted by a burly bodyguard through dimly lit rooms where semi-naked girls cavort. He finally confronts ‘The King’ who is chewing gum non-stop and getting a foot massage from a buxom female. Lily is a wonderful character and Rachel Weisz makes her doubly interesting. Lily’s a tough broad, but she knows how to dress and how to work her subjects, and Weisz makes her a pleasure to watch. There’s plenty going on there. But the richness of the field is compounded by the splendid ensemble cast which includes Paul Giamatti as Gordo, the con man with a bladder problem, Luis Guzman whose small-time crook is played to perfection, Donal Logue and Brian Van Holt, plus Andy Garcia as the FBI agent with temper management issues, who hides behind his unshaven appearance and an insignificant tie. Watching the scam play itself out is intriguing, as we are unsure where the scam ends and reality begins. At times it’s almost too clever, but I can promise you that your grey matter will be jumping around actively getting the drift of the grift. I enjoyed it.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dreamed of pulling off one of those great stings that really satisfies on an intelligence level – by the by, it also brings in a hefty dollar at the expense of a shady big business and doesn’t physically hurt anyone, except for their egos and self confidence. So this film is a treat of wish fulfilment for me; not quite as satisfying as the classic sting film, The Sting (1973), with Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw) but only because the mark isn’t as good/bad a villain as was Robert Shaw’s boo-hiss character. The sting, however, is perhaps even more enjoyably tortuous, twisted and gripping. A film like this relies on perfect casting and performances, a clever script that’s not so clever as to leave us behind or confused, and editing of brain surgery precision. Confidence has the lot, and is a demonstration that filmmaking can still be pure entertainment without appealing only to the lowest common denominator. Snob? Who me? Yes, guilty, a cinematic snob I am. I don’t mind having to concentrate to follow a plot, and I like being teased. This is cinematic foreplay, and the more there is, the better the … er …climax. Ed Burns is sensational as the gifted grifter, Rachel Weisz a notch above her already high standard, Andy Garcia is superb and Dustin Hoffman is arrestingly grisly as King, the head of a criminal outfit who wants to be bigger – like Emperor, maybe. Director James Foley’s style is edgy, almost too busy at times, but rescued by flair, and the production design is as hot as the action. This is the sort of film that originally gave movies a good name, when television was just a fuzz-with-static in its inventor’s eye: great story, well told, large size characters.
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CAST: Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Donal Logue, Luis Guzmán
PRODUCER: Michael Burns, Marc Butan, Michael Paseornek
DIRECTOR: James Foley
SCRIPT: Doug Jung
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Juan Ruiz Anchía
EDITOR: Stuart Levy
MUSIC: Christophe Beck
PRODUCTION DESIGN: William Arnold
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 24, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: October 16, 2002
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.