Apr 302003
Authors: Eric Todd Patton

Edward Burns and Dustin Hoffman are together for the first time in “Confidence,” a continually twisting caper about grifters looking for that big score that will allow an early retirement.

“Confidence” begins with a scam, with Burns (“She’s The One”), Paul Giamatti (“Man on the Moon”) and Brain Van Holt (“Basic”) swindling a young businessman out of $150,000.

In the spirit of similar scripts, such as David Mamet’s “Heist” and last years DeNiro film “The Score,” there needs to be a twist at the beginning that traps these stylish grifters. So it is revealed that the businessman whose money they took is an accountant for the mafia boss, The King, played by Hoffman (“Rain Man”).

Now in debt to The King for over one hundred grand, Jake Vig (Burns) must help The King accomplish a grift with an enormous payoff; $5,000,000.

Told in a unique little style, I think it hurt the film more than it helped. Many aspects could not work without narrative approach, yet it always pulled us out of the game at all the wrong moments, reminding us where the movie will end.

In this giant mess of con artists and pickpockets, the money seems to be up for grabs and nobody knows if they are the conned or the artist. With an ending that ties it all together, this dynamic cast takes a sub-par script and delivers it with enthusiastic confidence.

Although there are some moments of tension, although there is a fresh blend of comedy and intrigue, it takes too long to develop. It begins strong, setting up the characters and letting the audience in on the special situation surrounding Vig and his cons. Then, the pacing falls behind.

The character Gunther Butan, played by Andy Garcia, is not introduced until halfway through the movie, and yet he is a key player in the success or failure of Vig’s latest dirty venture. This is too late to introduce such an important character, which throws off the flow of the movie.

Hoffman’s character is unlike I have seen Hoffman. He is dirty, vile, perverted and a simply slow-witted man. Not Rain Man slow, but stupid criminal slow. Hoffman did a perfect job delivering exactly what was required of him.

Luis Guzman makes an appearance as an inept corrupt cop; giving this experience much needed comic relief. I most often hate those little love stories that writers feel the need to include in crime caper films, but Rachel Weisz and Burns seemed to “dance” together on the screen, making it tough to hate.

All in all, there were some script problems, but it had confidence. The cast took the holes in the screenplay and brushed past them with such determination you can hardly notice. It is still enjoyable and worth your time.

Starring; Ed Burns, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Luis Guzman and Paul Giamatti

Directed By; James Foley

What You Need To Know; A confident cast brushes over the holes in the otherwise weak script.


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