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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Murder > Religion > True Confessions (1981/DVD-Video)

True Confessions (1981/DVD-Video)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: B-



Ulu Grosbard is best known for the amazing Dustin Hoffman film Straight Time, but he also directed a film that has always had a good reputation that few have seen, now hitting DVD again.  Robert DeNiro is a priest and Robert Duvall is his police detective brother in True Confessions (1981) featuring a new look at The Black Dahlia Murders form a new perspective.


Monsignor Desmond Spellacy (DeNiro) is seeing his brother Tom (Duvall) for the first time in a while.  Desmond has some news for him, then the film goes into flashback at the time of the murders and the web of intricate and disturbing connections starts to take shape.  Tom is seen investigating the murder and ruffling the feathers of more than a few connected individuals and not caring less about it.


Desmond is trying to keep the church together and grow it in the face of money troubles and potential internal crisis.  John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion adapted Dunne’s book in a film that runs rings around the recent disappointing Black Dahlia film Brian De Palma took over at the last minute and sadly was not allowed to do anything with.


What is interesting about the film is that it is not a police procedural or detective mystery film, though elements are there.  Instead, it becomes an expose and character study of those who remain unseen and for that alone, it is worth going out of your way to see.  I wanted even more, but subtlety has its strengths and the film knows what to do with that.  Burgess Meredith, Charles Durning, Ed Flanders and Cyril Cusack also star.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image was shot by the great Owen Roizman, A.S.C., and he gives the film a feel that is as authentic as it is living.  Composition is smart and contributes to the narrative.  Unfortunately, an inferior 1.33 X 1 version is included that just does not look good.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono shows its age, but the sound has character all the way to the good music score by Georges Delerue.  Sadly, there are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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