Written and Directed by Brad Mirman
Starring Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt, Daniel London, Michael Badalucco, Max Casella
Originally Webcast: March 28, 2011
If you’re after a short, quick blast on Netflix, look no further than The Confession. Initially a webisode series, now compiled into one 60-minute adventure, The Confession features a stunning cast including Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt, as the short film delves into the shocking confession of a violent assassin to a shocked priest.
What begins as an acknowledgment of countless murders evolves into a lengthy and deep discussion on moral values and existentialism. As the discussion takes its turns, we flashback to The Confessor’s (Kiefer Sutherland) jobs – specific ones indicating the variation of the needs of his employment, while The Priest (John Hurt) is forced into a situation where he must continue listening.
But then while the moral debate of the Confessor’s actions continues, his motivations for being in the Church and meeting the Priest are unclear.
Sutherland presents a commendable role as the Confessor and Hitman in this piece. At the beginning he still exudes that Jack Bauer aura, but eventually shakes it off, convincing the audience he is not a very nice man at all.
Nevertheless it is Hurt who steals the show – for this short film is most definitely all about dialogue, or more appropriately, a journey in the form of dialogue. As the film approaches its climactic moments, Hurt delivers a presentation that rivals some of his finest achievements over his long career.
The focus of the movie is predominantly in the confessional booth, a passage that expands into a roller-coaster of emotion and regret. Outside of the confessional, the filming of flashbacks and moments within the Church are visually spectacular, with particular attention made to the lighting, and the palette of the visuals.
In contrast, there are some aspects of the film that do not come across as well as the performances. What little visual effects that are used (killing scenes), though incredibly minor, are clearly done-on-the-cheap, with less than believable results. The sound mix also comes across as a little off-putting – mostly during moments away from the discourse between Hurt and Sutherland, but this does stand out while viewing the film.
Besides these inconsequential criticisms, The Confession, as a story, is quite stable. On the surface, the plot focuses on faith versus secular thoughts – or perhaps even good versus evil. But just below this mild theological surface is a more absorbing journey of thought: focusing on choice. How much choice do we have in life? Are our choices predestined based on our early experiences?
But more significantly, the base root lies in the acceptance of the consequences for the choices we make in life. Symbolically, while Hurt and Sutherland represent two separate characters on the surface, inferentially it could be appraised that the film is a study of one individual with two lines of thought balancing on the concepts and morals of choices and their consequences. The writing is quite deep.
Notwithstanding my minor complaints about visual effects and sound, the plot and the performances certainly prove that substance matters much more heavily than appearances. It is the story and the brilliant acting of the two lead actors that drive The Confession exceptionally well. It is well worth a viewing, and with it only taking 60 odd minutes of your time, what have you got to lose?
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5