Ulu Grosbard's "True Confessions" scripted by John Gregory Dunne and
Joan Dideon from his novel of the same name is a masterful film, one of
the most under-rated movies of the nineteen-eighties. It's an exquisite
character study, whose themes deal with corruption, the seduction of
power, Catholic guilt, remorse and finally the need for absolution.
Robert De Niro is Desmond Spellacy, an ambitious Monsignor of an
Catholic Archdiocese in Los Angeles, and Robert Duvall is his brother
Tom, a middle-aged hardboiled LAPD detective, investigating the brutal
murder of a young would be actress. Both have a strongly developed
sense of Catholic sin that binds them even when their contrasting
personalities conflict. It is their scenes together, with all that
desperately needs to be said and yet is not, despite the love they have
for each other, that makes this one of the most brilliantly acted films
of its time. While Los Angeles of 1947 is beautifully recreated, many
critics misconstrued the film at the time of its release as being a
latter day film noir murder mystery. It is not. The solving of the
"Black Dahlia" style murder is only incidental to the plot. Central are
the relationships between many of the characters and the victim, and
how those relationships led to her death.
The film opens sixteen years after the murder in 1963. Duvall, retired from the force, visits his brother who was transfered to a threadbare parish in the desert years earlier because of the scandal. "I'm going to die, Tommy." Des tells him. "The arteries to the heart are shot." The scene then dissolves to 1947 to a magnificent cathedral with Des presiding over the wedding of Jack Amsterdam's daughter. Jack is a powerful construction contractor with a lifetime of misdeeds, now a pillar of the Catholic community and trying to buy his way into heaven by building Catholic schools. The dying Amsterdam (Charles Durning) taints all he comes in contact with, and personifies corruption, literally bringing it into the church, disrupting the ceremony with his incessant coughing while his daughter is already several months pregnant out of wedlock. The relationship between Amsterdam and Desmond will be a contentious point with the brothers. Unknown to Jack, years earlier Tom had acted as bag man for his payoffs to Vice and though busted for it was not indicted. His attempts to put Des straight about Jack are met with irritation and an unwillingness to hear the truth, because of his ambition to succeed the aging Cardinal, (Cyril Cusack) an appointment of which Jack has some say.
Jack's influence is felt even at LAPD. "Does he make you nervous, Frank?" Tom asks Frank Crotty (Kenneth Macmillan) after his slightly corrupt partner (he cheerfully accepts payoffs from local Chinese businessmen) insists that Amsterdam, despite, "Banging her", had nothing to do with the murder. Jack's hypocrisy, (he is made Catholic Layman of the year) and his disregard for the lives he destroys, (Brenda, one of his hookers (Rose Gregorio) commits suicide after Jack refuses to see her) will goat Tom to bring him in, having uncovered evidence it was Amsterdam who introduced the victim to the pornographer, who murdered her. Unfortunately Des also knew the victim, albeit only in passing. Jack's liaison with the church, Dan Campion, (Ed Flanders) is also facing ruin from the scandal that will ensue, (he was the first to have a sexual tryst with the victim) and tries to get Des to stop Tom's investigation, informing him that she was the hitchhiker they picked up on their way back from Santa Anita and if they go down Des will go with them. "You knew her too, Monsignor." "I knew her." Des replies. "You f**ked her."
Finally the film returns to 1963. For years Tom has carried the guilt that he ruined his brother's life and he needs his forgiveness. "It must have been hard, Des. It's my fault...I'm sorry." "No, Tommy you were my salvation, actually. You made me remember things I had forgotten. I thought I was someone I wasn't." Des consoles Tom he is unafraid of dying, that, "My bags are packed." Then in what they both know will be the last time the two brothers again attempt to connect. Both good yet touched by the same corruption: the sin of pride for Tom, ambition for Des, and both needed forgiveness. Reaffirming the love between them despite all that has happened, Des leads Tom to the plot he has set aside for himself and he hopes one day for Tom where they both may rest safe from worldly temptations. It is one of the most moving moments in the film. Requiescat in pace.
Action / Crime / Drama
Action / Crime / Drama
De Niro (a Catholic Priest) and Duvall (a Homicide Detective) play brothers drawn together after many years apart, in the aftermath of the brutal murder of a young prostitute.
Uploaded By: OTTO
Downloaded 19,797 times
September 28, 2014 at 08:13 PM