Writer-director Stefan Schaefer's "Confess," which snagged the Hamptons' scribe prize, never quite transcends its own cleverness. Pic's underdeveloped characters never deliver any fully coherent political beliefs, which allows Schaefer to hedge his bets in all directions. Gimmicky video imagery could score on cable.

Writer-director Stefan Schaefer’s high-concept script, “Confess,” which snagged the Hamptons’ scribe prize, never quite transcends its own cleverness. A black, downwardly mobile computer genius abducts corporate and governmental VIPs and taunts them into “confessing” the racism, exploitation and naked self-interest behind their smooth official facades. He then uploads their confessions onto an increasingly popular Web site. But, pic’s underdeveloped characters never deliver any fully coherent political beliefs, which allows Schaefer — in the guise of exploring the ambiguous implications of new electronic forms of social activism — to hedge his bets in all directions. Gimmicky video imagery could score on cable.

As the disillusioned overachiever and legendary hacker Terrell (Eugene Byrd) takes revenge on all those who have done him wrong, the DV-shot pic cleverly capitalizes on its digital technology, “rewinding” to flashbacks and incorporating computer editing into its narrative. When Terrell hooks up with a blond Ph.D. candidate (Ali Larter), who sees a wider revolutionary potential in his Web site, the cyberspace movement escalates into violence and spirals out of control. Successive endings allow the hero to have his cake, eat it and self-righteously denounce it, too.

Confess

Production

A Centrifugal Films production in association with Cicala Filmworks and 120db Films. Produced by Benjamin Odell, Jonathan Stern. Executive producers, Stephen D. Hays, Andrew Lund. Directed, written by Stefan C. Schaefer.

Crew

Camera (color, 24p DV), Leland Krane; editor, Joanne Belonsky; music, Scott Jacoby. Reviewed at Hamptons Film Festival (competing), Oct. 21, 2005. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Eugene Byrd, Ali Larter, Glenn Fitzgerald, Melissa Leo, William Sadler.
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