Review: “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”

One of the more unusual biographical films you’ll see, ‘Confessions’ marks an auspicious debut for George Clooney in the role of director – a job he already seems to be a natural at. This drama combines elements of comedy, spy thriller, nostalgia and frequent visual trickery to gives us a very entertaining piece which also will make you think a lot more than movies of this genre.

There’s a lot going on in this picture and while at times it will drift off into the odd montage or sequence which doesn’t really work other than to highlight some flashy trick, Clooney keeps things on track and well-paced for easily the majority of the film’s run. The cinematography and camerawork are just astonishing with simple ‘wall removal’ tricks and transitions that are clever rather than flashy which is why they’ll probably stick in your head longer.

Sam Rockwell once again delivers a deft performance, the actor showing he’s become the new Johnny Depp or early days DiCaprio – an actor whose not cut from the mainstream Affleck-ian mold but rather with his own individual and edgy flavour (and his appeal will heavily affect how much you enjoy this picture). This helps with the character too, portrayed as a self-loathing oversexed lothario with an almost juvenile yet oddly insightful attitude towards life.

Clooney puts in a rather insidious turn in a supporting role as the CIA agent who recruits Barris to go around and kill – never going over the top or evil but rather playing things straight up albeit with a darker edge at times.

Drew Barrymore as the free spirited lover, Julia Roberts as the dark femme fatale, and Rutger Hauer as a fellow assassin who reflects back on his life in one particularly touching scene all deliver some of the best supporting work from a cast in any film this year. Like Clooney, each character could’ve gone over the top but both the actors and script keep them grounded throughout and allow each to have a great moment to shine (esp. Roberts towards the end).

The score is excellent combining songs from the period with famous classical orchestral pieces (such as Mozart’s beautiful “Moonlight Sonata” during the ‘bedroom coffee’ scene). The editing, production design, visuals, etc. all combine superbly with Charlie Kaufman’s beautifully eccentric script to result in a peculiar little tale with an almost Hunter S. Thompson ‘Fear & Loathing…’ style oddball appeal.

From the almost silly satire of the CIA assassin training camp to the darker tragic stages of his reclusive period post-TV, the mood regularly changes yet you can’t help but go with the beat albeit one which mainstream audiences may find a little too unusual. Its a shame really, because otherwise this usually somewhat bland genre could take a few lessons from ‘Confessions’ – there’s more meat and flavour on it than many films of this type, but not the slow or all too depressingly deep you might expect. A superb tragicomedy in many ways.