Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2022 9:42 pm 
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Tangled web of a powerful murder suspect and his ace defense lawyer, from a Spanish original

A remake of the twisty, convoluted 2016 Spanish thriller Contratiempo /The Invisible Guest, written and directed by Oriol Paulo. Italian, Bolllywood, and Indian Telugu language remakes also exist. This is a skillful mystery murder thriller with a posh dark sleek look. It is the purest hokum, but it done very well. The actors are good, the music restrained but effective. The focus is the long interview, with many illustrative flashbacks or filmed possible versions, as a rich corporate IT CEO talks to a woman defense lawyer who has never lost a case. He is accused of murder, she is to get him off. It all feels made up to hold us, but despite ourselves we are, indeed, held, right to the end. Nonetheless this is a construct of immense artificiality, a conversation filled with lies on both sides formed out of filmed possibilities and flashbacks can't seem very real, even though it pushes our cinematic buttons.

We can't go into all the details because that would spoil the surprises, even if we could remember them all. Yoo Min-ho (suave, convincingly despicable So Ji-sub) awakens, dazzed from a blow and a fall, found in a locked hotel room with his dead mistress Kim Se-hee (Im Jin-ah, known as Nana). He insists he didn't do it. But there was nobody else there. As he talks to attorney Yang Shin-ae (Kim Yunjin of "Lost") his story changes. For her to be able to defend him he must tell her everything, she insists. She also informs him that his confession isn't convincing, and, not that he must tell the truth, but that he must make up a better story. A good defense, she says, is made up of convincing fabrications.

Then, Mr. Yoo starts to tell a whole different story, not about the murder of his mistress, though he will get to that later, but about a crime that he and she committed a while ago - their coverup of the accidental death of a young driver when they were on a winding road and swerved to avoid an elk, and the other car hit a boulder. You see, they didn't want it to be known that they were on the road together because their affair was secret. An intricate series of eventS unfolds involving a strange coincidence and a lake - events that will double back toward the end of the film.

This suspenseful and smartly constructed film was deemed a worthy closing for the Udine Far East Film Festival. And it is wonderfully slick. But despite its success the critics didn't like the Oriol Paulo original and there is no reason why we can admire the same kind of construct made in South Korea. It is too self evidently more delighted in its own narrative ingenuity than anything else. But there is something addictive about it and the acting and filmmaking here are polished.

Confession 자백, 105 mins., debuted at 36th Fribourg International Film Festival Mar. 20, 2022,[1][2] and its Italian debut at the 24th Udine Far East Film Festival Apr. 30, 2022 as closing film of the festival. Screened for this review as part of the July 15-30, 2022 New York Asian Film Festival.

Saturday Jul 23, 8:30pm
Asia Society
Director Yoon Jong-seok will attend the screening

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