Believe it or not, Kiefer Sutherland is capable of portraying more than just Jack Bauer. In fact, Sutherland followed up his long and successful run on "24" by starring in and producing a web series entitled "The Confession." The series previously streamed exclusively on Hulu and stars Sutherland and John Hurt. It is available now on DVD.
"The Confession" follows a hit man (Sutherland) as he enters a confessional and is welcomed by none other than John Hurt. This confessional is where a majority of the story takes place. The hit man says he is there to understand how people can have faith when the world is such a cold and dark place and he is proof of it. We flash back to jobs he has done in the past where we learn how he has come to be the man he is. The priest wants to hear none of this, but the hit man gives him the following ultimatum: if he can prove to the hit man that people are capable of being truly good, then he will not kill the man he is aiming to kill tonight.
"The Confession" is written and directed by Brad Mirman from an idea by Sutherland. What holds "The Confession" together and gives it merit is the writing. The dialogue is sharp and never feels like an attack on religion or a propaganda piece for it. Mirman simply uses religion as the backdrop and creates a wonderful theological debate between his two main characters that gives the story real heart and soul.
The direction and performances of the piece are also what keep it from becoming a complete bore. Mirman manages to make the scenes inside the confessional just as exciting as the ones outside of it (mainly the flashbacks). Sutherland's and Hurt's performances sizzle and make us want to watch their back and forth long after the series is over. Both actors inhabit their characters perfectly, and that keeps the scenes in the confessional alive and the dialogue worthy.
What makes "The Confession" fresh is the way the story is told. On DVD, we get the series edited together into an hour-long format. It's a ten-episode web series, and each installment is somewhere around five minutes. This makes it so that each spoken word, each look shared between Hurt and Sutherland has to be on the nose and important to the story. Each exchange between two people has to deliver a larger emotional meaning. "The Confession" is stripped down to the meat and bones of a story. It only includes what we really need, and that makes it extremely satisfying.
By cutting the story the way it is cut and only giving us the essentials, "The Confession" remains fresh and original and definitely worth a look. Stories are not changing, but the way they are being told is. "The Confession" was a little ahead of the curve on the whole web series idea, but they prove they can use the technique to work for a story rather than against it.
The only fault to find with "The Confession" would be minor: it is too tame. A story as original as this should be something more along the lines of a "Seven" rather than feeling like something we could watch on TV in the afternoon. But I digress. "The Confession" is still well worth a look and manages to be, probably, one of the more originally told stories in the past year or so.
The special features included on the disc are a handful of making of features and interviews with almost everyone. They give great insight into the difficulties of making "The Confession" and also into the inspiration to tell a story through the newest medium of storytelling: the web series.
"The Confession" is worth a look mainly because it is told in a way that stories seem to be heading. It is an original concept with some exceptional writing and performances. Let's hope the web series will continue to tell original stories and that filmmakers will attempt to use it to their advantage as Sutherland and Mirman have clearly done here.
Sucker Punches: None.