Pros: Intriguing premise, different from what you'd expect.
Cons: Way too slow-paced. Amy Irving's character was awful.
The Confession takes a unique look at how the legal system can be used for corruption. Alec Baldwin is Roy Bleakie, a defense attorney, and you might think he's being pressured from the opposing council to throw a case. Nope! In this case, he's being pressured to win the case - to get his client off with a light sentence. Like I said, it's a unique way to show a corrupt system.
You see, Bleakie's client, Harry Fertig (Ben Kingsley) is a man who under normal conditions is as rational and upstanding as they come. But when his son dies, Harry's rage and grief drive him to acts he'd never normally commit. Harry's not insane. He certainly knows right from wrong. In fact, he immediately confesses, and is determined to plead guilty, and take his sentence.
That's where the moral dilemma comes in. For various reasons I won't divulge, there are people who have a vested interest in Harry's freedom. These people hold Bleakie's political future in their hands. All they want is for Bleakie to succeed in keeping Harry a free man. In fact, it wouldn't be difficult to do. Everyone expects Harry to plead insanity - after all - he must have been crazy to commit those acts, right? But Harry isn't looking for the easy out. A religious man, Harry knows what he did was a sin, and wants to pay for his crime.
The entire movie is focused on this difference between what Harry wants, and what everyone else around him wants him to do. His lawyer, his wife, even the judge - everyone expects Harry to defend himself, and to help keep himself out of jail. Ben Kingsley is wonderful in anything he does, and he does a good job here. You can see that Harry is a troubled man, one who knows right from wrong, and is genuinely confused why others are pressuring him to go against his beliefs.
The story is interesting, but the execution is a bit lacking.
Let's start with Harry's wife, played by Amy Irving. The role is as dull as they come, her scenes make excellent sleep aids. But beyond that, she's a character that makes very little sense. She's a devout Jewish woman but her decisions and her actions didn't jibe with her personality. In fact she acts in a manner that absolutely does not "fit" with who she's supposed to be. And as she barely speaks at all, and when she does, it's in such monotone, we have no understanding at all as to what is driving her.
The other problem with the movie is the overall pacing. It is slow as molasses during the middle segment. It takes forever until we finally understand all of the pieces of the puzzle. After all, there's a reason why those people desperately want Harry not to plead guilty. But until we finally get the full story, we have to live through a very long, slow movie.
I liked that the movie took a different turn from the normal courtroom thrillers. And I loved the very satisfying ending. It's just too bad that the movie is so slow, it's likely to lose a lot of viewers who will never make it to that ending. And, I wish the wife's role was completely different. Overall, I'd call this a so-so movie. Definitely nothing to rush out and buy. While Kingsley is always a delight to watch, there's just not enough here to warrant a recommendation.