Movie Reviews
2:52 pm
Thu April 3, 2003

Confidence

Have confidence in these artists to make your day.

When Dustin Hoffman as a kingpin crook says to grifter Edward Burns, "Cute little Irish muscle ass you got," I was conned into loving this small con/heist film. Although Hoffman is not the central character in "Confidence" as Burns is, he occupies the mise en scene the way Christopher Walken does when he plays secondary roles--you just can't take your eyes off this consummate character actor whose real-life persona demands the same notice. Have confidence in these artists to make your day.

The plot of "Confidence" sounds like every other in the genre from the old "Grifters" to the recent "Heist" with roots in "Rififi," Tarantino, and Mamet. Because Burns's gang unknowingly stole $150,000 from Hoffman, Burns must scam a mark Hoffman selects in a $5 million job. There's a questionable corporate loan, a Belize bank account, and smuggled money in the process. Nothing new here.

What makes this film different is the apparent fun everyone is having: After all, when will ravishing Rachel Weisz ever again be able to play a con out-conned by a better con (Burns) while still looking like a winner? Or when will Andy Garcia again be able to play a grizzled fed with absolutely no glamour, almost unrecognizable as Garcia? And Hoffman: Not since Ratso Rizzo has he been able to play such a witty little sleaze ball.

Shakespeare characterized these gifted grifters well in "All's Well that Ends Well": "He will steal, Sir, an egg out of a cloister." A little bit more than an egg is stolen here, but it all does end well for the cons and the audience.