The missed assignation, and the phone call that never comes, and the axioms would seem to pile up in drifts within the mind of the suffering lover: ‘leave well enough alone’; ‘let sleeping dogs lie’; ‘curiosity killed the cat’—even so, the voices of a weak resolve are drowned under the exhortations of a nagging doubt that bids Karen (Nancy Clarkson) lift the lid on what aught remain undisturbed. Worse still, our Karen, desperate for surety, is guilty of employing a lovers test worthy of the Brothers Grimm.
Little in this life can withstand the corrosive effects of doubt, and Confession (2012) offers a time-lapse view of that erosion in the lives of two people ironically, and poetically, ruled by their chosen careers. For Karen, ruined by prolonged exposure to the darkness of damaged psyches and parched souls; and Phil (Andrew Cullimore) driven to all too common extremities by boredom and petty office politics, the two new lovers wind up, not in tandem, but on an unforeseen collision course in the wastelands of strained patience and flagging, if not lost hope.
This independent production—entirely independent meaning that it is not the product of any of a score of smaller hot-rod studios funded by one of the giants—manages to handsomely turn out a tight, well fashioned, and above all, thoughtful story spun from an ages old dilemma which director-writer, Mike Andrew Dawson, yet delivers afresh.
The secret to his success lies in knowing what kind of film (and it is film) he wanted to make. And everywhere Confession seems to employ control as its watchword. This becomes obvious as every element of an ultra-slim budget meshes together simply, not cheaply.
Director of Photography, Phillip Robertson, turns in beautiful work in concert with a crack lighting team that renders the finished seamless contours of available light. The final results culminate in the contrapuntal play between the harsh sterility of artificial spaces with hard surfaces, and intimate, soft interiors that seep the melancholy of a perpetual Sunday afternoon.
Commendations and kudos for each and every member of the cast as performances are focused, wonderfully unselfconscious, and as believable as reportage.
Mike Andrew Dawson, and editor, Donny Boocock, use long takes that move the story inexorably at the speed of ‘life in a northern town’, for this is Yorkshire, not London. And as we watch the day-to-day sameness of those desperate to acquire just enough lift to soar on a little sustained joy, we want them to succeed as much as they themselves do.
Here then is film in which there are no real missteps. There is nothing of the periodic first film awkwardness in any of the areas one might expect: a wordy script; scenes that seem to degrade rather than cut; uneven editing and performances; clumsy lighting and, or, sound. As a matter of fact, the sound quality is as evenly modulated as the lighting and performances. If anything, original music by Adrian Burch is almost bashful in its restraint. The end effect is a production which seems wonderfully mature in its ‘nothing to prove’ efficiency without being genuinely shy, only quietly confident.
There is but one minor observation that one can make if hard pressed: a couple of hand-held following shots feel out of context within the rest of the camera plot. Other than this, any viewer interested in ethical and moral dilemmas, Confession offers a tough nut to crack. Pay particular attention to some very telling dialogue that is almost thrown away. Equally skillful is the simmering malcontent disclosed during a tres intime couples dinner with friends. And wait, at long last, for one of the best closing lines heard in quite a while. See if it doesn’t ring in your ears.
In the end one must give full marks to a very tidy film that reminds us that love then, is not the ‘be all and the end all’, but merely the beginning of something that might one day conclude when death do us part—if—we are very lucky.
Happily Confession can be downloaded or streamed at www.confessionmovieuk.com
Actor, writer and director, Robert Kenneth Dator, worked in feature film and television in the United States and Australia. With film works and a critical analysis of film noir in progress, Bob teaches Film Literacy, Literature and Drama at Oak Ridge Military Academy. He lives and works in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will attend graduate school in the fall.
Director Mike Andrew Dawson
Screenplay Mike Andrew Dawson
Producer Howard Dawson
Director of Photography Phillip Robertson
Editor Donny Boocock
Art Director Andrew Critchett
With Nancy Clarkson (Karen), Andrew Cullimore (Phil), Aurora Fearnley (Rebecca), Rachael Henley (Linda), Verity-May Henry (Tracy), Steven Dolton (Chris), Will Tristram (Scott), Andrew Squires (Dave), Sharon Robinson (Helen), Joe Logan (John),
Lindsey Griffen-Scott (Crystal), Richard Hand (Tom), Dave Strange, Juliet Budd, Iain Hoskins, Mark Eccles, George Sumner, Collette Bradbury
Runtime 87 minutes
Produced and Distributed by Five Frames Left (region 1)
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Sound Mix: Stereo