Film Review: Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

If I’m honest, I’m still not sure whether this film is firstly, any good and secondly, based on a true story or not. It tells the tale of Chuck Barris – game show creator, host and CIA killing machine. Now, apparently, or so Wikipedia tells me Barris claims everything is true and of course the CIA deny anything of the sort. When will the world learn, people need real answers!

One thing I can say for certain is that this was George Clooney‘s first charge into the director’s chair, and sadly, you can tell. There is a real sense of “borrowing” to his style with influences from Steven Soderbergh (who directed Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13 – all staring Clooney) and the Coen brothers (who cast Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as well as the start of what I think should be referred to as “friendship casting” that Clooney likes to roll out so much. There are two cringe worthy cameos from Brad Pitt and Matt Damon while Julia Roberts is just too sweet, innocent and covered in Notting Hill coffee to really pull her part off.

Then there is the issue of the plot. As I said I’m still not sure if this is a true story, complete fiction or a man desperate for attention, recognition and confirmation of self worth from around him that he is simply creating wilder and wilder scenarios to find that high. Like the addict taking stronger and stronger doses to get the same effect, part of me thinks that this is nothing more than one man pushing the limits further and further; but the truth is often stranger than fiction.

One thing I can say though is that Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind is an entertaining film. While Clooney may at times be playing things far too safely from the director’s chair, the pace and speed at which he moves the plot along is not something you can criticise him for. The movie never seems to really drag or feel worn out. It simply takes you by the hand an guides you through it’s strange and bewildering plot. I spent portions of the film thinking to myself that it was very much like those polls you see in gossip magazines for “top 10 weird celebrity crushes“. Those lists where we are made to revolt at the prospect that finding another human being attractive is somehow wrong, that simply because a celebrity is defined, purely by the media, as “imperfect” it is, therefore, wrong, silly and scandalous to find them attractive. And this film feels the same, part of you feels wrong, silly and scandalous for finding it enjoyable and entertaining, even though there is actually nothing wrong, silly or scandalous with that at all.

In fact, I’d go further. Stuff the plot, stuff the casting, this film is wrong, silly and scandalous and I enjoyed it because of that. But there also lies it’s problem. It’s enjoyable, nothing more. The underlying question on which this whole film is based, “but is it real?” currently, cannot be answered categorically one way or the other and therefore, simply destroys its credibility. And as the final credits roll you are hit by the realisation that you cannot gleam anything more from it than a few handfuls of popcorn and a passing of an evening.

My advice is, therefore, this… watch it if it’s on terrestrial TV or you can borrow it from a mate – otherwise don’t waste your money. It’s not really worth it for how unsatisfied and bemused you’ll be at the end of it.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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