I love a good murder mystery and at Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 I got to see a true standout: Confession. Directed and written by Jong-seok Yoon, Confession thrives in its simplicity, chemistry, and ability to show multiple truths and lies without losing narrative focus. The film stars Yunjin Kim, So Ji-sub, Nana, and Hwang Sun-hee.
In the film, Yoo Min-ho killed his mistress, or at least everyone thinks he did. Released on bail, Min-ho is held up in a cabin, inviting only his mysterious new lawyer, Ms. Yang, who has never lost a single case. With the court’s judgment hanging over him, Ms. Yang is his only hope and in order for her to do the job correctly and win, Min-ho will need to tell every secret he has.
Over the course of one night, Min-ho reconstructs every single fact of his relationship with Se-Hee, his mistress. Presenting a timeline of events, and a number of new crimes, one thing is clear he didn’t kill her. However, as the events surrounding the murder begin to emerge, it becomes clear that the couple wasn’t innocent victims. In fact, their foul play seems to have triggered vengeance that has not only framed him but looking to made their own judgment.
Truth be told, we’ve seen this time-tested format before. Two people attempting to outwit one another and trying to pull the truth out of an ever-shrinking limbo. But in Confession, this format works at a fast pace that continually builds moment after moment until its eventful finale. Sure, this theme is simple, but it’s also effective and entirely immersive. This is thanks to the performances from So Ji-sub and Yunjin Kim.
While actor So displays a wide range of emotion and behavior through well-timed and reality-questioning flashbacks as they recreate the past, actress Kim manages to push her power through stoicism. Their push and pull is an immensely strong game between giants. While Min-ho is highly expressive in his worry, his fear, and his steadfast belief of no wrongdoing, Ms. Yang gets under his skin slowly, coldness her weapon to push him to the brink.
Director Yoon manages to pull of a tight story that plugs every potential plot hole by making sure every reconstruction of the events has been thought of and shared between the two. The ability to never confuse your audience while at the same time trusting them to figure out the story themselves is a balance that makes Confession stand out against other mystery films. While each twist and development is tightly woven together, there is still an undercurrent of chaos that keeps the audience guessing.
The pivot from the question “did Yoo Min-ho kill his mistress” to “who is trying to kill him” is a sharp turn that pays off in spades. Additionally, the choice to make Min-ho a man guilty of other crimes allows the audience to investigate who he is as a character. Sure, he shouldn’t go to jail for a murder he didn’t commit, but maybe just a little comeuppance as a treat?
Confession is a great mystery that succeeds because of its fantastically acted characters. Opposite forces balancing the narrative, So Ji-sub and Yujin Kim are a treat.
Confession screened at Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 and hasn’t received a United States release.
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.