At first glance the film Confidence appears to have almost as much panache as
its characters, but as the case with any con, things aren't always as good as they
The film opens with the death of con artist Jake Vig (Edward Burns)
and works its way backward in a noir patented, temporal-bending narrative approach
executed with the hyper jump-cut flashbacks that have become the cornerstone of neo-noir
techniques. Vig runs a con on Lionel, an accountant to mob boss, King (Dustin Hoffman).
King in turn has both Lionel and Big Al (the crew's shill) killed. Vig, in order to
repay his debt, offers to run a con on the mark of King's choice. In the predictable
frying-pan-to-fire scenario, King chooses Gillette, a banker for organized crime, leaving
Vig to pull off the con of his career. Meanwhile, he must also meet other obligatory
crime drama requirements: avenge his partner's death, fall in love with sexy pickpocket,
Lily (Rachel Weisz), and evade federal agent, Butan (Andy Garcia).
lies the problem. Confidence could've been a good movie if it hadn't tried to
pass its weary, rehashed plot as something new. Its talent seems all too aware of this
fact as well, Garcia, a familiar face to the crime genre, is totally disappointing. Burns
seems more interested in playing the part as other actors (think Edward Norton or Ben
Affleck) than at giving a genuine performance, and the rest of the cast is little more
than window dressing.
Hoffman is the only exception, delivering a
seriously intriguing performance
as King. Reminiscent of his depiction of infamous
mobster Dutch Schultz in
a modern garb -- King is equally power-hungry and erratic
(though here it’s
blamed on ADHD). Here he adds just a subtle touch of sexual
the character, making things more interesting.
mid-nineties, when Tarantino's Pulp Fiction
delivered a cinematic
shot of adrenaline to film noir, it triggered not only a
revival in the genre, but also coined a whole new look for the
pessimistic-grit-laden-anti-heroic context. Meanwhile, films like Payback and Ocean's
Eleven play up their nostalgic noir clichés with a campy quality that makes them
just as entertaining to watch as the new breed. Confidence attempts neither an
improvement on the form nor a reprisal of the classic vibe and is content regurgitating
the same old thing.