×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

True Confessions

Given the powerhouse topline casting combo and provocative theme, True Confessions has to be chalked up as something of a disappointment. Adaptation of John Gregory Dunne's bestseller, which was inspired by LA's legendary Black Dahlia murder case of the late 1940s, features corrupt cops, whores, pimps, sibling rivalry, pornography and political intrigue within the Roman Catholic Church, but still comes off as relatively mild fare which fails to pack a dramatic or emotional wallop.

With:
Robert De Niro Robert Duvall Charles Durning Burgess Meredith Cyril Cusack Rose Gregorio

Given the powerhouse topline casting combo and provocative theme, True Confessions has to be chalked up as something of a disappointment. Adaptation of John Gregory Dunne’s bestseller, which was inspired by LA’s legendary Black Dahlia murder case of the late 1940s, features corrupt cops, whores, pimps, sibling rivalry, pornography and political intrigue within the Roman Catholic Church, but still comes off as relatively mild fare which fails to pack a dramatic or emotional wallop.

For at least the first hour, it’s hard to tell where the drama’s headed. Bookended by years-later scenes in which brothers Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall, both white-haired, play out mutual climax to their radically different lives at the former’s pathetic desert parish, main body of pic flip-flops between police detective Duvall handling two bizarre deaths and ambitious Monsignor De Niro negotiating the delicate waters of church diplomacy.

Unfortunately, nowhere near the full weight of these considerations is ever felt in Ulu Grosbard’s muted, unmuscular telling of the sordid, fateful events. Script is deliberately structured to build to a big dramatic pay-off, but this never comes, leaving audience frustrated that careful groundwork has been laid to little avail.

Failings cannot be attributed to the actors, all of whom have clearly immersed themselves in their roles. Duvall is excellent as an unsentimental dick working a tough beat which irrevocably poisons his personal life. Charles Durning’s portrait of a big-time phony is right on target.

True Confessions

Production: United Artists. Director Ulu Grosbard; Producer Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff; Screenplay John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion; Camera Owen Roizman; Editor Lynzee Klingman; Music Georges Delerue; Art Director Stephen S. Grimes

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 108 MIN.

With: Robert De Niro Robert Duvall Charles Durning Burgess Meredith Cyril Cusack Rose Gregorio

More Film

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival 2019 Award Winners

    Berlin Film Festival 2019: Nadav Lapid's 'Synonyms' Wins Golden Bear

    Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms,” about a young Israeli man in Paris who has turned his back on his native country, won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale on Saturday. The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to François Ozon’s French drama “By the Grace of God,” a fact-based account of the Catholic Church [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content