Release Date: September 12, 2017
Director: Roberto Andò
MPAA Rating: NR
Runtime: 108 Minutes
Isolated in a luxury hotel away from the public, whose financial future they collectively control, some of the world’s most influential economists attend a G8 meeting over the weekend off the German coast. Among the representatives of Japan, Canada, Germany and the director of the International Monetary Fund is the unexpected guest Roberto Salus (Toni Servillo), a monk whose quiet, sagely composure and reputation places him on the outside looking in on the pragmatic book balancing of world nations.
When the IMF director is found dead the night after the mysterious Salus took his confession, speculation falls on his withered robed shoulders, and Ando’s film partakes in one of the most hands-off, disinterested murder-mysteries that has ever been filmed. Unsure of its stakes, its purpose and its direction, Le Confessioni meanders itself through its vacant hotel sets without motivation, running out its weekend with nary a threat to be seen.
Even when there is a body growing cold behind the door of one of the hotel suites, the film’s interest mistakenly lies not on who committed the murder or why (the questions a typical murder-mystery enjoys getting audaciously creative about answering). Instead, it partakes in conversation upon conversation about the effects on the market, the business alliances put at risk, the morality of economics, all in overwritten dialogue-dumps that not only are hard to follow due to the business-101 jargon, but also imply story threads and characterizations that the film doesn’t present to you. Everything Ando does, from his staging to his pacing, makes Le Confessioni painfully dry and a chore to emotionally invest oneself in or to follow.
Our one lifeline is firmly staked upon Salus, who seems as lost as the audience and who Toni Servillo imbues with a quiet dignity. It is not the best performance, as it renders a great Italian actor (The Great Beauty, Gommorah) to be castrated of all his natural charm to pull off a deadpan monk on the verge of a vow of silence.
But, compared to the faceless, uninteresting nation reps that compose this G8 cabal we are saddled with, he’s a welcome focal point. The film would have you believe that dissension and animosity is growing among these entrapped world powers, but as many of them go unnamed and their actions are without clear motivation, it’s safe to qualify that they aren’t characters.
Le Confessioni might be a victim of the low expectations it inadvertently sets for itself. There are opportunities to build either tension or mystery that willingly present themselves with this loaded premise, and Ando fumbles at every chance. The film sloughs its way toward a climax where the stakes it failed to establish earlier in the film come to light in multiple confusing and unsatisfying ways, departing before you were given the chance to believe the last hour and half had any bearing on this conclusion. Longwinded and obtuse as it is, Le Confessioni gives you no opportunity to get into its dry exterior and find any sort of substance beyond endless lectures in international economics.