Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner10/03/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Impressive directorial debut with a great performance from Sam Rockwell – darkly funny, surprising and very enjoyable, there’s enough here to suggest that Clooney should direct again.

Clearly, George Clooney’s time spent with regular collaborators the Coen Brothers (O Brother Where Art Thou?, the upcoming Intolerable Cruelty) and Steven Soderbergh (Solaris, Out of Sight, Ocean’s 11) has not been spent in vain. Reputedly, he frequently ‘spends all his time on set’ and now we know why. For his directorial debut, he’s fashioned a stylish, funny, superbly acted and extremely enjoyable drama that employs a variety of directorial tricks and flourishes but never at the expense of the story.

Gameshow Host Assassin

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is based on the supposedly autobiographical novel by Chuck Barris, who is best known in the States as the creator of The Dating Game (basically Blind Date) and The Gong Show.

In the book, Barris claims that he was secretly recruited by the CIA and that he actually performed a number of assassinations while leading his double life as a TV host. Naturally, these claims were dismissed as fantasy, but, to the film’s credit, it doesn’t come down on one side or the other, thanks to an impressive script by Charlie ‘Adaptation’ Kaufman.

Sam Rockwell plays Barris and, after an initial prologue in which he’s bearded, naked and holed up in an apartment fending off Drew Barrymore, we pick up his life just before he breaks into television at the ground floor. Shortly afterwards, he hooks up with Barrymore’s free-spirited hippy and his career takes off when he comes up with the idea for The Dating Game. However, when he meets the mysterious Jim Byrd (George Clooney, sporting quiff and Comedy Moustache), he’s made an offer he can’t refuse…

Superb Performances

Rockwell is superb as Barris and proves himself more than capable of carrying a major film (after years spent comprehensively stealing scenes in other movies), even if he is still the last name on the poster. In fact, the role is vaguely similar to Steve Coogan’s turn as Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People – neither Wilson nor Barris were particularly well liked and yet Coogan and Rockwell brilliantly capture the charisma of their characters.

There’s terrific support too, not just from Clooney but also from unlikely sources such as Rutger Hauer (emerging from Video Hell for a brilliant cameo) and Julia Roberts as Barris’ seductive contact (“You’re not like the other murderers…”) Look out too for blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos from The Lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal (soon to be much better known), Steven Soderbergh and – in a hilariously inspired bit of casting - two of the more famous members of Ocean’s 11.

Clooney’s direction is extremely impressive. He makes bold use of garish colour for his tacky 70s TV sets and pulls out a number of clever tricks (imaginative split screen work, freeze-frames, different colour stocks, flash-cutting etc) to move the story along. In other hands, this could easily have been distracting, but far from detracting from the story, the effects serve to subtly emphasise the possible fantasy element of the story. At any rate, Clooney can afford to hold his head up high alongside other actors-turned-director and there’s more than enough here to suggest that he should continue directing.

In short, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is an enjoyable, well-acted, stylishly directed film, if a little on the unusual side. It is also, frequently extremely funny. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (15)
Be the first to review Confessions of a Dangerous Mind...
01 Rurouni Kenshin 2: Kyoto Inferno (15)

Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Tatsuya Fujiwara

02 Annie (tbc)

Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne

03 Paddington (PG)

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins

04 Get Santa (tbc)

Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis , Rafe Spall

05 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (12A)

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Content updated: 29/11/2014 01:08

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Rurouni Kenshin 2: Kyoto Inferno (15)

Based on the Manga series of comics, this sequel to the 2012 film sees Kenshin taking up arms against evil once more.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films