Take every Catholic movie cliché you can find, wrap them up in a weak and predictable murder-mystery, throw in Christian Slater and Stephen Rea as they struggle for some semblance of the glory their careers once held, release direct-to-DVD, and you have The Confessor. Slater plays a priest struggling with his own faith, to the point he hasn’t prayed in years. His primary purpose to the Catholic Church is as a fundraiser for whatever causes they deem necessary to support. Of course, all of his higher-ups are st…dgy old men more grounded in public relations than decent living, and he grows more at odds with them as he delves deeper into the death of a disgraced (but, of course, innocent) priest, who is accused of a murder he didn’t commit, which leads to his mysterious death while awaiting trial. When Slater takes over the priest’s parish, he comes to terms with his own human frailties and finds out all his suspicions about the dead predecessor’s innocence are true – but if he didn’t do it, who did? That’s an answer you shouldn’t have any difficulty figuring out.
While the film lacks entertainment value, it is a useful training ground for Molly Parker, the lead actress (or “actor in a female role” for you strict readers). As the love interest of Slater, she commands attention, more so than any of the rest of this washed-up cast. And as for the rest of the cast, it isn’t that their performances are awful – they are simply too bored with the script to inject any passion into it. Everyone but Parker is doing no more than collecting a paycheck, and I certainly can’t blame them, because the script – with its amateurish expository dialogue containing lines that reiterate exactly what you’re seeing through the characters’ actions – is too poor to secure a green-light for production, much less the attached talent’s hard work and ingenuity. Now grant it, with horror stories about Hollywood ruining good scripts being a dime a dozen, it may not have been the writer’s fault – but the fact remains, the script is the film’s greatest drawback.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation sports a clean frame, free of grain and edge enhancement, but the colors lack a certain amount of accuracy. Flesh tones are a little drab, and black levels just aren’t that deep. Contrast suffers as a result. The whole film feels very dull, as if it picked up on the actors’ lack of enthusiasm. Each scene within the parish appears rainy and tinted, like those within Father Andrews’ (the disgraced priest’s) holding cell – all together, no excitement on the visual end.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track also lacks a much-needed vitality. For a thriller, there certainly aren’t any thrills from any of the five speakers. Only dialogue levels stand out, obscuring most every other aspect of the audio. Bass – if it’s there, it never makes itself known; and background noise doesn’t factor in either. It’s like a straight mono with four speakers wasted.
A long list of trailers for other features, including Saint Ralph, the new When a Stranger Calls, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and various others, are the only bonus materials accompanying the feature.
I’ve seen worse movies, but I’m not sure if any have ever sported such indifference to their very existence as The Confessor. Cast-wise, Parker is the only performer with anything to gain from this outing. And after Alone in the Dark, Slater best watch his decision-making more responsibly, or there will be more of these in his future. The A/V, like the script and cast, is just going through the motions, and the bonus features seal the rotten deal for a soon-to-be-forgotten disc.
Special Features List