Director: George Clooney
Screenplay by: Charlie Kaufman
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts
Based on the autobiography of the same name, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, tells the story of Chuck Barris, at least the story he claimed happened. Since the book was published in 1984 Barris has admitted that he made up most of the story and later backtracked saying he will never truly say one way or another.
Sam Rockwell (Jojo Rabbit, Richard Jewell) plays Barris, the gameshow producer and host that uses his day job as a cover to be an assassin for the CIA. George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven) plays Jim Byrd, his handler and contact within the CIA. Drew Barrymore (Scream) plays Barris’s partner, Penny Pacino, a hippie and someone who waits around for Barris no matter how poorly he treats her.
Everyone is great in their roles, giving great performances that are believable and natural. Sam Rockwell is great in most things he’s in, but this is a standout role as he carries the entire film. George Clooney is also great as the quiet CIA agent. Drew Barrymore is excellent when on screen, really giving a great performance in what feels like a limited role.
Clooney also made his directorial debut with this film and does a great job. The visuals pop off the screen and captures the 1960s and 70s with flair. There are some great panning shots and scene transitions that work so well and are also impressive to watch and some handheld camera moments inspired by films from the early 1970s.
The story is really well told and captures you from almost the opening scene. It’s full of style and has a lot of funny moments. Kaufman captures an upbeat thriller/drama with a punchy script and Clooney’s direction is great. In many ways it feels more upbeat and energetic than a lot of Kaufman’s films, that is until the breakdown scene. During a taping of one Barris’s shows he suffers a mental breakdown and the whole world around him seems to melt away. It’s a great sequence.
The film does feel really long. It’s not even two hours in length, but it feels a lot longer. It starts out great and you’re having a great time but by two thirds of the way in you don’t feel it anymore. There just isn’t enough there to keep it entertaining and by the end it’s just gotten boring. By the time they reveal who the mole is, you’ve almost forgotten there even was one. The film feels like it’s in two-minds about what it wants to be. On one side it’s an espionage thriller with Barris tasked with finding the mole, the other side is that it’s a drama about a man struggling with his own insecurities and the general disdain towards him from critics.
The performances are great, the direction is wonderful, the story is interesting and the first forty minutes or so are punchy and energetic. Confessions is a good film, it’s just once it’s over you’re left with a feeling that it should have ended a long time before.