Sam Rockwell, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Drew Barrymore
Chuck Barris, Charlie Kaufman
As directed by George Clooney, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" is an entertaining, involving and unique film featuring a script by Charlie Kaufman based upon the memoirs of former Gong Show host Chuck Barris, who claims in the memoirs to have been a CIA hitman.
The film stars Sam Rockwell as Barris, and Rockwell does a marvelous job of capturing the vocalizations, mannerisms and eccentricities of Barris. As his girlfriend Penny, Drew Barrymore is a nice combination of heartwarming and funny, while Clooney shows up in the role of an agent and does the "bad guy" routine quite nicely. Julia Roberts shows up as an agent with whom Barris has an affair, however, these scenes end up feeling very forced and awkwardly disrupting the flow of the film. While not a bad performance, it's an unusually uncomfortable one from Roberts.
Kaufman's script, and particularly his dialogue, is pitch perfect and the use of interviews to back up Barris' claim regarding being a hitman are effective and thought provoking.
A critical favorite when it was released in 2002, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" won numerous festival awards but only moderate box-office and a limited appeal hurt any chances of overwhelming critical acclaim.
Where "Confessions" lacks is in its lack of an emotional core. We are essentially given lots of information and lots of entertainment, but they often feel disconnected. In essence, we are never given the chance to truly bond with Barris and, as such, by the end of the film it's pretty easy to leave the theatre and think "Who cares?" Perhaps an additional scene or two of emotional revelation could have created an emotional response that would have made me want to leave the theatre and tell everyone I knew "Man, that film was great." Instead, I found myself thinking "Good film, I'll go home and write about it."
"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" is a good film, but not a great one AND most definitely not a memorable one.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic