When a faked robbery ends in a real death, three long-time friends have their fierce loyalty to one another put to the test, in this noir-ish action thriller from South Korean director Lee Do-yun.
Neatly balancing the emotional pull of Korea's best dramas with the electric charge of its crime thrillers, Lee Do-yun's Confession marks an impressive feature debut. A story of friendship that reaches from high-school optimism to the darker dilemmas of adult life, this is a buddy movie with a twist.
We first see Hyun-tae (Ji Sung), In-chul (Ju Ji-hoon) and Min-soo (Lee Kwang-soo) euphoric on the day of their graduation. But instead of taking part in the ceremony, they sneak off to hike up a local mountain on a lark. It's the kind of risky rule-breaking that escalates as they enter the work world.
In-chul's risk-taking borders on the criminal, which makes his job as an insurance agent both a perfect cover and a great opportunity. Min-soo and Hyun-tae lead more sedate lives and hold down ordinary jobs, but when Hyun-tae's mother approaches the men for help in a clearly shady job, their friendship is tested. She wants him to stage a robbery of her gambling arcade as a way to cash in on an insurance policy. Can In-chul put his larcenous impulses into action? And can Hyun-tae pull off the job with the help of Min-soo?
As the reckless plan begins to hurtle forward, Lee accelerates the pace, alternating between bracing action sequences and arresting close-ups. His style revels in the gloss of hard-boiled crime fiction, but also digs beneath the surface to flesh out the inner turmoil of his characters, smartly scrutinizing conventional notions of masculinity and loyalty. The plan goes wrong as it must. The bigger question is what happens to friendships forged in childhood.
At once ruthless and delicate, Confession is about the precious things threatened when we try to make fast gains.