Confession (2022) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): It’s competent, if not better

South Korean film “Confession”, which is the remake of Spanish film “The Invisible Guest” (2016), is fairly competent on the whole. Mainly because I belatedly checked out the original Spanish version on this Tuesday, I did not expect much when I was about to watch “Confession” at last night along with a few audiences, but it came to hold my attention to some degree with several nice new surprises behind its back, though I still am not sure whether it is better than the original Spanish version.

The movie does not waste its time in establishing the tricky circumstance surrounding Min-ho (So Ji-sub), a wealthy entrepreneur who was recently arrested for the murder of his mistress Se-hee (Nana). Although he is subsequently released after paying a big amount of bail, he is still regarded as the prime suspect of the murder case by the police and the prosecution, and that is the main reason why he really needs the legal service from one prominent female lawyer who has been quite invincible throughout her professional career.

When Min-ho happens to be at a little private cabin located somewhere in a rural mountain area on one cold and snowy day, the aforementioned lawyer suddenly comes for a very important change in the case. According to her, the prosecution gets a witness who may testify against Min-ho during the following trial, and she strongly demands that Min-ho should tell her whatever he has not been hiding before she officially agrees to defend him at the court.

Although Min-ho is quite reluctant to tell all to her, the lawyer gradually pushes and goads him as sharply pointing out how easily his claim of innocent can crumble here and there. For example, he claims that there was someone else in a hotel room where he and his mistress met at that time, but there is not any evidence to prove the presence of this unknown figure in the room, and, above all, it seemed that there was no possibility of escape at that time. When the police came to the room around the time of the murder, its sole entrance door was locked inside, and so were its windows.

This is indeed a classic example of closed room mystery, and it is fun to watch how the lawyer methodically delves into that as slowly cornering Min-ho for getting more truth from him. Not so surprisingly, he is indeed hiding something from her from the very beginning, and we accordingly get a series of flashback scenes showing how things got quite wrong for him and Se-hee around two months ago. Shortly after leaving the cabin together, they conflicted with each other a bit in Min-ho’s car, and that is when a certain serious incident occurred. Because they happened to be at a remote spot, they quickly attempted to cover up everything as much as possible, and it looked like they managed to get away with that – for a while.

Now I should be more discreet about describing the plot. There is a certain guy who may be that surprise witness for the prosecution because he happened to pass by where that incident occurred, and then there is also a middle-aged couple who turns out to have a motive as well as an opportunity for framing the murder on Min-ho. It looks like the lawyer clearly sees through almost everything from the start, but she still needs some piece of information from Min-ho, and Min-ho is still not so willing to bend to the lawyer’s demand.

While the screenplay by director/writer Yoon Jong-seok is mostly faithful to the original version during its first two acts, it also puts some extra twists on the original story during the last act for our entertainment. Regardless of whether this considerable modification is actually an improvement or not, it prevents the film at least from becoming a mere retread of what was presented in the original Spanish version, which has already been remade more than once in several other countries.

The movie depends a lot on the uneasy interactions between its two lead performers on the screen. So Ji-sub, who seems to be more interested in distributing good foreign films such as “Petite Maman” (2021) in South Korea these days, often feels rather wooden in my inconsequential opinion, but that somehow fits well with his character’s ambiguous attitude, and he also dutifully holds the ground for Kim Yun-jin, who surely has some good moments to savor as her character is looking for any weak spot from Min-ho and his claim of innocence. Although we are reminded again and again of how unreliable their characters are in one way or another, Kim and So keep us engaged via their good joint efforts, and they are also supported well by several other main cast members including Choi Kwang-il and Nana, a popular South Korean singer who demonstrates here a bit of her potential as a good actress.

Overall, “Confession” is a solid genre piece which does not surpass its original Spanish version much despite a number of enjoyable technical elements besides the nice acting match between its two lead performers. I particularly liked the chilly wintry atmosphere generated from the cinematography by Kim Seong-jin, and the constantly anxious score by Mowg certainly brings more chilliness to the overall picture. Because I gave “The Invisible Guest” 2.5 stars, I should also give “Confession” 2.5 stars, but I must say that it is not a total waste of time at all, and I think you may enjoy more than me especially if you have not watched the original Spanish version yet.

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