I should love Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It’s about a game show impresario who is, according to his own supremely questionable accounts, a CIA assassin. Said alleged assassin is played with trademark jerky charm by the inimitable Sam Rockwell and the screenplay is from the legendary Charlie Kaufman. In short: exactly my kind of thing.
And yet, it left me …if not exactly underwhelmed, then hardly impressed. It’s not a terrible film, but while it has Kaufman’s trademark absurdity and eclecticism, it lacks the sense of direction and coherency of the writer’s best films. Think how Adaptation. simultaneously parodies writing clichés while embracing them, or how Synecdoche, New York demonstrates the impossible folly of trying to capture the complexity of life in one artwork while …doing just that.
If I had to lay the blame anywhere, it’d be at the feet of director George Clooney, who apparently hacked Kaufman’s script to pieces. In his directorial debut, Clooney throws everything-and-the-kitchen-sink at the material. While there are occasional flashes of brilliance, the lack of stylistic coherency – over-saturation here, under-saturation there, every type of colour correction under the sun – contributes to a film that’s often wildly entertaining but is, ultimately, disappointing uneven.