Currently streaming on Netflix is the drama-thriller, Confession. Written and directed by David Beton, Confession stars Stephen Moyer, Colm Meaney, and Clare-Hope Ashitey, and tells the story of a priest who is held hostage in his church by an armed man.
In the movie, Father Peter is getting ready to lock up his church for the night, when a stranger walks in through the front door. The man – who later identifies himself as Victor Strong – is injured and is carrying a gun.
With blood pouring out of his chest, Victor orders Father Peter to lock all of the doors. Father Peter complies with the request, and soon the pair engage in conversation, with the priest trying to get a better understanding of who Victor is.
But as the two get into a deep discussion, they are interrupted by a third person – a state trooper called Willow, who knows Victor all too well. Willow reveals details about Victor’s past, throwing further light on who he is, and how he ended up wounded.
However, the information provided by Willow doesn’t seem quite right, leaving Father Peter questioning who to trust. As the night progresses, further details are revealed, including some important information about Father Peter himself.
Produced on a low budget, and filmed in one location, Confession is a small-scale thriller, largely built around three central characters. The film is very much a conversational piece, with no flashy set-pieces, and relies heavily on its tone, mood, and atmosphere to help convey its tale.
Over the course of the film’s runtime, which is a lean 80 minutes, the characters reveal key information to drive the story forward. These little story beats act as twists here and there, with the aim of building tension and suspense.
But unfortunately, Confession isn’t particularly tense or very suspenseful. The elements are all there, but this film feels all very sedate, and not nearly as interesting as it could be.
The problem with Confession is that the performances feel rather stagey and the setting isn’t used to its fullest. As such, the whole movie feels like an undercooked play, rather than an engaging feature film, and that’s clearly not this picture’s intention.
With regards to the performances in Confession, this film contains some good actors, but none of them are utilised in the right way. Not once did I buy into any of their characters, nor did I care what happened to them during the course of the night.
The actors seem as if they are simply reading their lines back to each, with little conviction or belief in what they are selling. As this is a problem with all of the actors, rather than just one, this suggests the issue lies with writer/director David Beton and his leadership, rather than with the performers themselves.
And this leads me to the issue surrounding the setting and the overall staging of this movie. While it is clear this film has limited resources, so it was never going to be explosive stuff, much more could have been done with the characters and the way in which they interact with their environment.
Chunks of this movie simply involve characters sat around conversing. There are minimal attempts to shake up the status quo, by positioning the players in different places to create a bit more drama, and this means the film never builds any momentum or excitement.
After a while it all gets a bit too samey. There are ways to inject excitement or interest in the story, simply by having the actors moving around more, so I’m not sure why Beton didn’t try to create a bit more energy in his picture.
Ultimately, while Confession is fine to watch, it is a ‘watch once and forget about it’ kind of movie. There’s nothing in this film that would ever draw audiences back for a second viewing, and I expect some may not even be that arsed about getting to the climax during viewing number one.
I do feel that so much more could have been done with this film, so it’s a shame that it all feels underwhelming and uninspiring. It just never achieves what I believe it sets out to do.