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.
6 thoughts on “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)”
It all felt so damn ordinary to me, even if it did feature a neat story I never knew even existed. Good review.
Yeah, it’s remarkable how all the weirdness kinda blends together – I feel like Clooney is trying to hard to put his own spin on the material and loses what should make it unique. I still don’t think it’s a bad film – as you say, the story is quite remarkable, however true it is! – but it’s so much less than it could’ve been. Thanks for the comment.
It’s a fair take, Dave. And one with which I largely agree (though I might give the movie a higher rating than you). This one’s biggest flaw is in how off page the writer and director appear to be from each other.
I may have been a bit harsh because I expected so much more from it. Wish they could’ve found a different director for this script, I’m sure there was a brilliant film in there somewhere!
I do like this film, but I can’t argue against your points. It definitely has the feel of an all-too-eager first time filmmaker. I had no idea who butchered Kaufman’s script. That’s really interesting.
I don’t think it’s a terrible film or anything, but it feels like it ends up woefully short of its substantial potential. I wasn’t aware until I did some reading after seeing the film: Kaufman has been pretty vocal about the finished product being quite different from his script in a way he doesn’t support.