Preview by: Jack Foley
EDWARD Burns describes his latest film, Confidence, as 'a contemporary
version of The Sting, a con movie with a bit of a wink to it'.
And if the buzz is to be believed from the recent Sundance Film
Festival, the description might not be a long way off.
Confidence follows the fortunes of Burns' con man, Jake Vig, who
manages to scam a few thousand dollars from a Mob kingpin without
realising the trouble it will lead to. The kingpin in question
(played by Dustin Hoffman), retliates by killing out a member
of Vig's crew and wants the money back, prompting Vig and his
crew to recover it by scamming the kingpin's nemesis, a high-powered
Thrown into the mix, to complicate matters still further, is a
tough-talking dame (played by Rachel Weisz) and a grudge-bearing
Federal agent (Andy Garcia), who will apparently stop at nothing
to exact his revenge.
Sound convoluted? You bet. But then most of the best heist movies
are, dealing with bluff and counter bluff on the way to their
(hopefully) entertaining finales.
Needless to say, however, much of the hype surrounding Confidence
has been generated by the talents of its heavyweight cast - although
the film remains strictly independent, in that it was made for
a mere $10 million and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
It has also been directed by James Foley, whose CV includes the
memorable Glengarry Glen Ross (which featured another strong ensemble)
and the less memorable, The Corrupter.
Another of the movie's stars, Paul Giammati (who was the talk
of the festival after his performances in this and American
Splendor), refers to Confidence as 'a con man movie that shows
the audience the mechanics of what con artists actually do'.
He adds, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, that
'the idea is to give people an almost documentary feel for how
these guys pull of a scam'.
The film is based upon a first-time screenplay from Doug Jung
and, owing to its modest budget, had to be switched from its original
New York setting to LA.
But the toghest thing about producing the script, according to
Burns, is 'how much these characters lie to each other and everyone
else in the movie. We had to make sure that, at no point, did
the script ever lie to the audience'.
Heist movies have enjoyed something of a renaissance of late,
what with the ultra-stylish likes of Ocean's
11 and The Good Thief, as
well as the more gritty likes of Heist
(starring Gene Hackman). It remains to be seen whether Confidence
can emulate such past successes, particularly as it is being given
only a limited US cinema release by its distributor, Lions Gate
But we have every reason to feel confident as website, Movies.com,
took in a screening at Sundance and said that 'James Foley's Confidence,
twists and turns, stylish camerawork, and a fantastic ensemble
cast keep you guessing, never sure of who's doing what to whom,
where, or when'.
It concluded that it 'is to Foley's credit that the pace is fast
and the plot two steps ahead, always out of reach of the predictable'.
THE critics appear to have been lining up to heap praise upon
Confidence, which seems to have scored highly with the majority
of those who saw it.
Leading the way, is EFilmCritic.com, which wrote that,
'seemingly inspired by Pulp
Fiction, The Sting and anything presented by the word processor
of David Mamet...yet still the flick entertains in its own right.
And wait till you see this CAST!'
Variety wrote that Confidence is 'a stylish, compelling
crime caper full of smoothly navigated plot twists', while Hollywood
Reporter stated that 'Doug Jung supplies a slick and clever
screenplay that maps out all the moves like a chess master teaching
a class, while veteran director James Foley casts the movie oh
More dismissive was Village Voice, which said that it 'lazily
assembles a batch of movie stars, turns them loose on a script
that reflects nothing so much as a committee interpretation of
every other caper flick, and lets them bounce off each other like
so many overpaid billiard balls'.
But Entertainment Weekly wrote that 'Confidence may be
mannered at times, but its shell-game plot is alive with organic
trickery'. It awarded it a B.
The Chicago Tribune wrote that 'Foley keeps the action
moving swiftly enough that you don't have time to enter analytical
mode', while Hollywood Report Card drooled, 'oh, this is
a good film. Fun, curious dialogue rolls across the tongues of
rich, likable characters, to create a strong, thumping pace that
LA Weekly was also impressed, stating that it was 'warm,
playful and inclusive of its audience', while TV Guide
advised viewers to, 'just sit back and enjoy the sharp performances
and stylish ambiance that are clearly this film's real reason
Less kind, however, was the New York Post, which felt
that it 'features all too much footage of the scowling Burns,
who has a narrower range than almost any actor working in Hollywood
these days', while the New York Times wrote that it is
'so infatuated with the idea of style at the expense of everything
else that it manages not to have any of its own'.
The Onion's A.V Club, meanwhile, felt that it 'knows all
the notes, but forgets the music'.
Worse still, was the Philadelphia Inquirer, which felt
just like the characters on-screen, all it wants
to do is take your money and run'.
Planet Sick-Boy, however, felt that Confidence was 'one of those
films that's perfectly entertaining while you're watching it but
don't realize how slight it actually is until you think about
it afterward', while E! Online concludes this round-up by awarding
it a B+ and noting that 'the colorful cast
keeps good time
with the efficient and snappy plot'.