Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: True Confessions (1981)

True Confessions, by Ulu Grosbard, is a rare film, at least in Finland. It's never been shown in Finnish television and it's been released only in VHS in the mid-eighties. It was released in cinemas, but I'm not sure how widely it was shown. I remember my dad liking the film a great deal.

I just bought the VHS I mentioned from a thrift store and got around to watching the film the other day. I read the John Gregory Dunne novel this is based on some years ago (here are some of my reflections), but I noticed I didn't remember much of it. The film is based loosely on the Black Dahlia case, and both the novel and the film seem to offer an explanation to the case, but in the film it was shown in a very oblique fashion, as was typical in the more artful crime films of the seventies and early eighties. Really: I had to check the Wikipedia article for the film to realize what went down in the end of the film!

That said, True Confessions is not a bad film at all. It's all been done on purpose. The lead actors, Robert Duvall and Robert DeNiro are quite good (and DeNiro is not hamming it up as usual, he plays the Catholic priest in a very subdued note), and they are packed with a nice bunch of character actors. There's a gritty realism to the police work in the film, and it also shows the shady side of politics, construction, Catholic church and prostitution linked with the police force. This is a very nuanced view of being a police in the late 1940's America.

There's not much action in the film, nor much suspense, but it's still catchy and interesting to the end - even though I didn't fully realize just what happened. Who got busted and who walked? Should probably read Dunne's novel again.

The film was scripted by Dunne himself and his wife, Joan Didion, who's probably now the better known of the duo. (And only her works have been translated in Finnish.)

More Overlooked Movies here. And damn, I only now notice that Frederik Pohl died yesterday. He sure lived a full life.

No comments: