Some films will be remembered for their story, some for a visual effect or appeal, and some for their quality performances. Then, every now and then comes along a film which is for all intents and purposes is just an average movie that’s hardly worth a look but has one redeeming feature in the form of a dynamic supporting role performance which commands the screen and rivets you in place.
This is one of those films and the man in question is Dustin Hoffman. That’s not to say “Confidence” isn’t a decent little dramatic movie about grifting and the art of the scam, but without Hoffman’s dynamic presence the film would pretty much disappear out of your memory as fast as it went in.
Hoffman plays ‘The King’, a gangster and strip club owner which is a delicious bad guy role combining a man whose obsessed with detail, flattering, almost sweet, completely brash, of dubious sexuality and a dangerous dark horse. He’s the kind of villain whose got a believable menace which pops up unpredictably and then disappears behind a veneer which taunts and moulds people to his will.
His character interactions with Burns and Weisz are compelling to watch, even throwaway scenes are just great stuff (for example his lecture to two sister nude dancers – he wants them to go down on each other as long as its done tastefully) and make the rest of the film seem pale in comparison, certainly one of the big potential Supporting Actor nods for next year’s Oscars.
Director James Foley and scribe Doug Jung give us some interesting characters and keeps the focus on them for the most part to the point where the ‘scam’ of the movie is almost an afterthought which helps cover up the fact its a low budget picture (ergo it can’t afford something too elaborate). Yes like “Basic” it suffers from the overuse of twists to the point its a little silly, but your investment in the characters is enough to make it believable.
Ed Burns does his usual flat faced style acting in a forgettable piece, upstaged by the beautiful Rachel Weisz as an amateur congirl and Paul Giamatti as his somewhat hyper-nervous assistant. Cameos from the likes of Andy Garica and Robert Forrester pop in and out with little thought but the editing is nice and smooth which gives a pace to some very talk-oriented proceedings. “Confidence” lives up to its name with some strong elements to it, and is definitely one too check out if only for Dustin doing what he does best – mindf**king everyone around him.