22nd February 2004
What Jake Vig doesn't know just might get him killed. A sharp and polished grifter, Jake, along with large amounts of fake blood, has just managed to swindle thousands of dollars from the unsuspecting Lionel Dolby. But being the pro he is, Jake never works alone and his crew Gordo, Miles and Big Al plus two corrupt LAPD officers Lloyd and Omar are all in on the swindle. But as Jake soon learns, Lionel wasn't just any mark, he was an accountant for eccentric crime boss Winston King. Naturally, King is not too pleased about being fleeced and he makes his feelings known to the gang and his wayward accountant in the only way he knows best.
But never one to shy away from a challenge, Jake offers to repay Winston King by arranging a con worth so much money that even King would be a fool to let it pass by. It would be the biggest, and probably his last, con of Jake's career and would involve a complex scheme of corporate loans, creative accounting, wire transfers, off-shore accounts, five million dollars and a sprinkling of revenge.
And the mark? Morgan Gillette, a wealthy banker who has deep ties to organized crime. With so much riding on the outcome, Jake decides to bring in a brash, blonde pickpocket named Lily. To make matters worse, Jake must also contend with his old nemesis, FBI agent Gunther Butan, who's determined to finally get his man, and one of Winston King's henchman, Travis, has come along to make sure everything runs to plan. Against these diminishing odds, Jake and his crew will have to stay one step ahead of both the criminals and the cops to finally settle their debt.
Something strange seems to be happening in the world of DVD at the moment as the quality of transfers seems to be going through the roof. And Confidence is no slouch in the picture department either. The colours are rich and bright with a wonderful amount of detail and an above average bit-rate throughout. And with a large majority of the film taking place either at night or in dimly lit locations the picture has possibility of causing a problems with outlining. Fortunately, it remains spot on with continually good black levels along with no signs of artifacting, grain or edge enhancement. The transfer is also remarkably clean with little or no signs of dust specks or other forms of picture imperfections.
The 448Kbps Dolby Digital soundtrack offers some clear and precise dialogue in the centre channel along with some reasonable stereo effects in the front channels. The surround channels are occasionally used for some of the ambient or musical effects, but they are nothing special. However, for a film of this genre it isn't that unexpected and it doesn't really detract from the films enjoyment.
The menu is simple, but effectively, animated and scored. Each submenu fades into the next menu and you are greeted with yet another animated and differently scored menu. Simple as it is, I would have to say that this menu is probably one of my favourite designs ever to grace the shiny silver disc.
The extras offer wide range of information, as well as an unexpected omission in the deleted scenes selection, and they certainly add additional value to what is already an excellent film. The main extras would have to be the three audio commentary tracks, one from the director, one from the writer and one from stars Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman and Andy Garcia. If you've never seen the film before then watch the film before auditioning the audio tracks otherwise it ends up being one big plot spoiler.
Whilst I always like a yack track from the stars it is unfortunately one of those tracks which, other than Edward Burns and Rachel Weisz, their comments been recorded separately. Burns does most of the talking and has to prompt Weisz most of the time, whilst Hoffman doesn't say a word until his first and subsequent scenes. Likewise, Garcia doesn't say anything until about 45 minutes into the film. As a result its not that fluid and other than learning the amount of ad-libbing that Hoffman did, it's not really that interesting. Never-the-less, it's still nice to have so many A-list stars providing a commentary.
The director audio commentary tracks are usually the best and yet again director James Foley proves it to be the case. There's hardly a quiet moment as he talks his way through the entire film with plenty of interesting snippets of information from the script to the cast and crew. He also pulls no punches and is more than happy to complain about the cast members laughing too much whilst he got more and more annoyed. Original script writer Doug Jung also provides an isolated commentary track. Although I felt that a joint commentary with the director would have been more interesting, Doug still supplies plenty of useful information on how the final cut of the film differs from the original script.
One bonus over the region one edition of the film is an interview with the principle cast members and the directors. Essentially recorded during the promotional tour it has an over enthusiastic interviewer asking the cast about their motivation and how good it was working with Dustin Hoffman. It's not the best set of interviews you'll see. The Anatomy of a Scene featurette is a well presented production for the Sundance Channel. I've seen some of their featurettes before and was impressed with the results, and that impression continues here. It covers all the usual elements of the film from the casting, location, directing and the films influences.
The region one edition of the disc comes with three deleted scenes whilst this edition only comes with two. Whilst this may not be too much of an issue to most, the missing scene is five minutes of Hoffman ad-libbing his way through a scene interviewing prospective dancers in his club. The two deleted scenes run to about five minutes and are of Weisz in her apartment and offer a much darker side to her character. I can only assume that the Hoffman scene, along with a soundtrack section, was sacrificed for space purposes in order to retain the superb picture transfer for the capacity hungry PAL system.
I'm not quite sure why, but this film seemed to slip by me without me ever being aware of its existence. After quickly checking out its region one counterpart I noticed that it was released some six months before the region two edition and that its publicity was rather on the quiet side. However, I was fortunate enough to receive a preview disc and I'm happy to report that Confidence is an absolute cracker of a film.
I really do like a thinker of a film, and Confidence has more twists and turns than a truck load of swizzle sticks on a twisting Swiss Alpine pass. It even has that rare thing in Hollywood known as a plot. If you put this together with the superb picture, some wonderful performances from the cast and plot that will keep you guessing until the bitter end, you have a bargain package which is well worth investigating. If you liked The Usual Suspects then you'll love Confidence. Highly recommended. Shame about the missing deleted scene with Hoffman though.
- Director commentary
- Writer commentary
- Cast commentary
- Anatomy of a Scene by The Sundance Channel
- Interviews with Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, Ed Burns, Rachel Weisz and director James Foley
- Deleted scenes
- Theatrical Trailers