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Culture: Confident thriller keeps you guessing; Confidence Momentum Pictures Certificate: 15 VHS pounds 12.99/DVD RRP:pounds 17.99 Out Now.

Byline: Chris Pryke

There's a cool assurance to Confidence -a certain, well, confidence, I suppose, that all the main players know they're involved in a good thing and are enjoying themselves. The story revolves around Jake Vig (Edward Burns), the leader of a small group of conmen who spend their time travelling around the United States relieving gullible people of large amounts of cash through a finely-honed con trick.

But life for Vig's team takes a downward turn when they take a large amount of money from an accountant who, unbeknown to them, works for eccentric nightclub owner/crime boss Winston King (Dustin Hoffman).

After one of Vig's team is killed by King's hitmen, he is forced into offering to repay King by pulling off the biggest con of his career. But the arrival on the scene of Vig's nemesis FBI agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia) means things don't run as smoothly as hoped and plenty of double crossings ensue in the battle to grab the cash.

Burns is excellent as Jake Vig, displaying the same sort of cool style and quick wit as George Clooney in Ocean's 11, and is well supported by the under-rated and excellent Paul Giamatti, who plays gang member Gordo.

Rachel Weisz also puts in a fine performance as the mysterious pickpocket Lily, who gets recruited to the gang for the big con, and Andy Garcia does the best job he can of the relatively small but crucial role of down-at-heel FBI agent Butan.

But the real star of the show is Dustin Hoffman, who gives a scenestealing performance as Winston King, a man who seems permanently on the verge of physical violence and a man who you wouldn't want to cross.

First-time writer Doug Jung's script has more twists and turns than a coiled spring and at times seems to stretch itself a bit too far in its efforts to be too clever. The jumpcut flashback story style gives the film a rather disjointed feel and also makes it a bit too easy for any plot holes that materialise to be filled in at the end.

But, overall, Confidence is a stylish, good looking film, with some snappy dialogue, that will keep you guessing until the end.

CAPTION(S):

Dustin Hoffman squares up to Ed Burns
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 8, 2004
Words:382
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