Roberto Andò’s multi-lingual The Confessions looks at the filthy capitalist side of the world with a sneering disdain and confronts it with suggestive topics such as religion and the supernatural.
As it happened in the political satire Long Live the Freedom (2013), the Sicilian filmmaker teams up with the one and only Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty, Il Divo), who plays a Carthusian monk turned into the main suspect in the death of the wealthy French economist Daniel Roché (Daniel Auteuil), director of the International Monetary Fund. The tragic incident occurs during a G8 confidential meeting convoked by the president himself, who, after a long confession with Father Roberto Salus (Servillo), a man of untrembling faith, is found in his hotel room choked with a plastic bag tied over his head.
“This tense dance between God and the devil, dispossession and financial power, repent and sin…”
None of the ministers or guests can leave the luxurious German hotel exclusively reserved for the event before the detective in charge concludes the investigations that will determine whether if it was a suicide or murder. The procedures take a long and sinuous course because the monk’s mouth is sealed by a strict vow of silence, which increases the mistrust and insecurity among the group.
By itself, the simple convocation of the monk for this meeting is an enigma, but the fact that he was the last person seeing the banker before his death along with a few other relevant details, make him the center of everyone’s attention.
Pushed to the limit to tell what he knows, the mysterious Father Salus becomes the most sought after personality in the hotel for various reasons. While the elusive Italian minister Antonio Varelli (Pierfrancesco Favino), worried about his reputation, agrees to confess his sins to relieve his conscience, other ministers, particularly the ones from the UK and the US, just want to get rid of him since he might be in possession of classified information. From here, we conclude that what they were about to approve wouldn’t be beneficial for the world at all but for their pockets and personal interests.
“…The Confessions flows at a steady pace, avoiding abrupt frenzied spins beyond an unfathomable surreal finale that is worthy of the best illusionists.”
This tense dance between God and the devil, dispossession and financial power, repent and sin, takes almost the shape of one of Agatha Christie’s cases with uncertainty and mysticism alike.
Salus’ best ally ends up being Claire Seth (Connie Nielsen), a famous writer of books for children, who developed a steep curiosity for the monk since the minute she laid her eyes on him. Besides them, there’s another outsider, Mark Klein (Moritz Bleibtreu), a guest musician who tries to conquer Ms. Seth with his gallantry when he’s not entertaining everyone with country-like renditions of tunes like Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side.
Andò co-wrote the script with his close collaborator Angelo Pasquini, resorting to mordant, funny lines to censure the secrecy and hypocrisy of the world’s financial state of affairs, a concern that he dares to compare to the Mafia.
Packed with ironic scenes accurately framed by cinematographer Maurizio Calvesi, who was able to find the right tonic between the light and the shadow, and enhanced by Nicola Piovani’s uncanny score, The Confessions flows at a steady pace, avoiding abrupt frenzied spins beyond an unfathomable surreal finale that is worthy of the best illusionists.
One thought weighs in the end: silence, no one can buy.
The Confessions (2016) – Written by Roberto Andò and Angelo Pasquini. Directed by Roberto Andò. Starring: Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, Connie Nielsen, Moritz Bleibtreu, Pierfrancesco Favino.
7 out of 10