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Saturday, October 8, 2016

True Confessions (1981)

Set in the late 1940s, two brothers find themselves at opposite ends of a murder case that could bring one or both of them down: an ambitious priest (Robert De Niro) who seems more concerned with raising money and public relations than saving souls and a cop (Robert Duvall) determined to redeem himself by bringing down corruption in high places even if it means his sibling will be ruined. Based on the novel by John Gregory Dunne who adapted his novel to the screen with his wife Joan Didion and directed by Ulu Grosbard. Nominally a crime thriller, the film isn't really interested in the murder aspect of the story but uses it as a backdrop for a character piece of the extremely different brothers whose rivalry seems to go all the way back to their childhood. Ironically, both characters are part of a large corrupt institution, one the Catholic church and the other the L.A. police department. Indeed as the movie builds to its apparent climatic conclusion, we never actually see it as suddenly we jump many years later to the aftermath which does seem a bit of a cheat. De Niro retreats so far into his character than he becomes an enigmatic cipher. An acting choice? This allows Duvall, both the actor and his character, to take over center stage which he does quite nicely. With Charles Durning, Burgess Meredith, Ed Flanders, Kenneth McMillan, Cyril Cusack, Jeanette Nolan and in the film's best performance, Rose Gregorio. 

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