Maybe George Clooney is just a naturally gifted director,
or maybe he learned through osmosis by surrounding himself
with other talented filmmakers. Whatever the case, Clooney
does an admirable job with his directorial debut, Confessions
Of A Dangerous Mind. At times both humorous and disturbing,
Confessions takes you on a wild journey through the
mind of “The Gong Show” creator, Chuck Barris (Rockwell).
Confessions is based on Barris’s autobiography, which
details his double life as a television producer and assassin
for the CIA. As a young, struggling TV producer, Barris is
recruited by a mysterious agent (Clooney) to become a hitman
for the CIA. After intense government training, Barris finds
himself in a seedy town in Mexico performing his first of
many subsequent assassinations. However, Barris’s luck changes
on the entertainment front, and he scores big with shows such
as “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game,” and “The Gong Show.”
Now, Barris must balance his hectic life in television with
his dangerous career in espionage. When the boundary between
these two worlds becomes blurred, Barris loses his grip on
reality and starts to slip further and further into madness.
Confessions uses actual game show footage and interviews
with Barris’s colleagues to help tell the story and give further
insight into Barris’s personality. Interesting shots and camera
angles along with brilliant cinematography from Newton
Thomas Sigel (Three Kings, X-Men) give the movie
a unique feel and help keep it fun and engaging when the pace
starts to lag.
The film’s supporting cast alone would be a dream for any
first-time director, but then, George Clooney is no ordinary
first-time director. Not many people would be able to play
a favor card and score cameos from Brad Pitt and Matt
Damon. He also managed to get Roberts to shed her
sweetheart image for a supporting role as an enigmatic international
operative who causes Barris more than just a few sleepless
nights. However, Clooney really hit the jackpot with the man
he found to play Barris. If you don’t know who Sam Rockwell
is now, you’ll certainly know him soon because this role is
bound to make him a star. Rockwell gives a fearless performance,
successfully conveying Barris’s arrogance and eccentricity
while still managing to make him charming and vulnerable.
Barrymore also gives a memorable performance as Barris’s
free-spirited girlfriend, Penny.
Solid direction from Clooney holds Confessions together
in places where it could just as easily have fallen apart.
The story itself is odd and complex, and in the hands of a
less capable writer or director, it would be nothing short
of a disaster. Yet, Kaufman’s witty screenplay teamed
with Clooney’s stylish direction result in a surprisingly
fresh and original film that is a must-see for anyone who’s
tired of typical mainstream Hollywood fare.