Jake (Edward Burns) is a sharp and polished grifter, who together with his team Gordo (Paul Giamatti), Shills (Brian Van Holt) and corrupt LAPD officers Lloyd (Donal Logue) and Omar (Luis Guzman) have just successfully swindled millions from an unsuspecting mark named Lionel. But when Lionel is found dead, Jake discovers that he is, in fact, an accountant for eccentric crime boss Winston King (Dustin Hoffman). Jake quickly offers to repay ‘The King’ but pulling off the ‘mother of all cons’, and recruits female pickpocket Lily (Rachel Weisz) to be part of the team. Now Jake’s old nemesis, FBI agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia) turns up and is hot on his heels.
Review by Louise Keller:
Everybody’s got an angle in Confidence, a super scam flick with twists galore and a cool and classy cast. The whole film has an edginess about it – from the way the story is told to the sharp editing and booming close ups that get us close and personal with all the characters. But ultimately, it’s the characters that get to us – they are all so wonderfully drawn and somehow each one interests us in some way.
First of all, there’s Jake, who’s as slick as they come when it comes to a swindle. He is cool and collected, always waiting to collect, and in the hands of debonair Edward Burns, his character is played just right. His complete nemesis is ‘The King’ (beautifully played by Dustin Hoffman), who is sleaze personified. He talks at a million miles an hour, suffers from ADD and has a phobia about everything. The scene in which we meet him is highly memorable. Jake is escorted by a burly bodyguard through dimly lit rooms where semi-naked girls cavort. He finally confronts ‘The King’ who is chewing gum non-stop and getting a foot massage from a buxom female. Lily is a wonderful character and Rachel Weisz makes her doubly interesting. Lily’s a tough broad, but she knows how to dress and how to work her subjects, and Weisz makes her a pleasure to watch.
There’s plenty going on there. But the richness of the field is compounded by the splendid ensemble cast which includes Paul Giamatti as Gordo, the con man with a bladder problem, Luis Guzman whose small-time crook is played to perfection, Donal Logue and Brian Van Holt, plus Andy Garcia as the FBI agent with temper management issues, who hides behind his unshaven appearance and an insignificant tie. Watching the scam play itself out is intriguing, as we are unsure where the scam ends and reality begins. At times it’s almost too clever, but I can promise you that your grey matter will be jumping around actively getting the drift of the grift. I enjoyed it.
Although few in number, the DVD special features are outstanding, comprising of intelligent and in depth interviews both in the studio and on the red carpet with Ed Burns, Dustin Hoffman, director James Foley and writer Doug Jung. It is refreshing to see good interviews on a DVD instead of the mandatory sound bites.
In the studio Dustin Hoffman talks about his surprise to find a script with such wit, form and originality. Hoffman had no problem with the fact that it was a supporting role; his only reservation was the physicality of his character, being a 300 lb big guy. The entrance point for his character was the sexual ambiguity, and this is what Hoffman worked on. ‘The King’ had done time, which meant that he had learned to use sex as a weapon to intimidate. This had nothing to do with sex or love.
Ed Burns tells that working with Dustin Hoffman was the highlight of his career to date. The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy were two of the five films that made him want to be an actor in film school, so working with him was both ‘awesome and hysterical’.
On the red carpet, the interviews are equally – and surprisingly - in depth. No, Dustin Hoffman was not difficult to work with; kissing Rachel Weisz for Ed Burns was ‘just doing the job’; Hoffman says his character was tri-sexual, with a penchant for girls, boys and dogs.
Published October 16, 2003
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CAST: Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Donal Logue, Luis Guzmán
DIRECTOR: James Foley
SCRIPT: Doug Jung
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
PRESENTATION: widescreen 16: 9; single sided, single layer disc
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailers,; Indepth interviews with Dustin Hoffman, Ed Burns; Red Carpet Interviews;
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: October 15, 2003