DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Gary Duncan

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Confidence

Confidence is a movie about image and perception and glossy surfaces. The same could be said about the extras. They're slick and efficient but, like the film, you suspect the whole package isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is.

The Anatomy Of A Scene by the Sundance Channel deconstructs the scene where Ed Burns' character, Jake, introduces his partners in crime to new recruit Lily (Rachel Weisz) and runs through his plans for the sting. This is a "pivotal" scene and we know this because the writer, director, cast and crew keep telling us. It does offer some insights into the mechanics of the scene but no amount of polish can hide the fact that the scene itself hardly warrants a second look, never mind a 30 minute analysis.

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The best bits, in the extras and the movie, belong to Dustin Hoffman. He almost turned it down, he says, because he felt he wasn't right for the part of King, a 300-pound enforcer in the original screenplay. He says he saw King as more of a "big Jesse Ventura type villain" and adds, just in case we hadn't noticed, "I'm a little guy."

Director James Foley and writer Doug Jung rewrote the part for Hoffman and what we see in the final cut is the result of those changes and Hoffman's on-set improvisation. Burns and Weisz both say it was exhilarating and terrifying playing against Hoffman, given his reputation and constant ad libbing. He'd play the same scene five or six times, offering something different every time and challenging those around him to respond. In the scene where King first meets Lily, Lily is smoking, trying to play it cool. King grabs the cigarette and breaks it in two. This wasn't scripted and you can almost see Hoffman saying, "Come on, Rachel, let's see what you've got." Hoffman says he did it simply because he doesn't like to see people smoke: "I do that in real life, too!" he says, mischievously.

Andy Garcia, as shady FBI agent Gunther Butan, was given some licence with his character as well. In Jung's screenplay, Butan was more of an idea than a fleshed out character and once Garcia was on board he was encouraged to add his own back story to bring Butan to life. Garcia decided to give him a "Tampa" look - cheap suit and tie, chewed up cigar and a few days' stubble. He even wore one of his own straw hats.

Garcia says he'd wanted to work with Foley for a long time, having admired his work on Glengarry Glen Ross and At Close Range. Garcia calls him an "actor's director", good with dialogue and big-name ensemble casts. Hoffman says Foley "directs around" his actors, giving them space to do their own thing, even in a tightly-plotted movie like Confidence.

Foley is refreshingly unpretentious. Asked if the movie is an attempt at film noir, he says he doesn't even know what film noir is: "The characters don't think they're in a film noir, they're in a story. I hate to be conscious of any genres like that. That's for other people to put labels on."

The Deleted Scenes are limited to a couple, involving Weisz. One is a lengthy head-to-head with Burns, in which we learn more than we'd ever need to know about Lily's back story (it would have killed the movie stone dead had it been left in), and the other is an unconvincing fight scene, in which Lily whacks a heavy with a frying pan.

Weisz is excellent, but looks uncomfortable being interviewed and her commentary is punctuated with unfinished sentences and long silences, as if she's watching the film for the first time and hasn't quite grasped the intricacies of the plot. She doesn't seem to know what's going on in the key scene in which Jake kicks Lily off the job. Ahen Burns gives his take on it, she replies, "Really? Right."

Reviewed on: 29 Feb 2004
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Confidence packshot
Confidence trickery in LA, featuring a gang of smarty pants versus a very odd Dustin Hoffman.
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Product Code: MP267DVD

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9 Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Director and Writer Commentary; Cast Commentary; Interviews with Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, Ed Burns, Rachel Weisz and director James Foley; Deleted Scenes; Anatomy of a Scene by the Sundance Channel

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