In Roberto Andò's The Confessions, an unorthodox birthday speech about the unforeseen moral consequences of economics ("For better or for worse, we are not God") kicks off an international whodunit. An octet of influential, platitude-spewing economists gathers at a hotel for a discreet G8 meeting, summoned by birthday boy and International Monetary Fund director Daniel Roché. At Roché's behest, a trio of outsiders (a monk, a musician and a writer) infiltrates the proceedings to assuage growing distrust from "suspicious media." Little do his guests know that Roché will be dead by dawn. But how?
Having broken his vow of silence specially for this occasion, Toni Servillo's monk serves as the film's moral core (quelle surprise). He soaks up confessions like a sponge, including a lengthy one from Roché that puts the increasingly testy economists on guard, lest the monk reveal their secrets. While Servillo masterfully expresses charm and benevolence without being holier-than-thou, it's a shame that the other characters aren't given the same attention. Instead, many are reduced to nameless figureheads. (As the bullish "German minister," Richard Sammel and his razor-sharp cheekbones are sadly underused.)
Cinematographer Maurizio Calvesi captures the luxe beauty of the German coastal setting -- which almost makes up for a multilingual script dripping with humdrum philosophy about mortality, morality and metaphysics. A rumination on malfeasance for the sake of riches, The Confessions takes a leap of faith but merely ambles through its existential crises.
Roberto AndòToni Servillo, Connie Nielsen, Pierfrancesco Favino, Marie-Josée Croze, Moritz BleibtreuRoberto Andò, Angelo PasquiniUncork'd Entertainment