Story: Yoo Min-ho (So Ji-sub) is a successful tech millionaire and married to the daughter of a powerful CEO. One day he is found in a hotel room along with the dead body of Kim Se-hee (Nana). Se-hee was his affair, but he hadn't seen her for several months. It seems that somebody knocked Min-ho unconscious and killed Se-hee. Now he is accused of murder. Momentarily, however, he is released because someone made a formal mistake during his arrest. At a remote cabin, which he often visits to clear his mind, he meets up with lawyer Yang Shin-ae (Kim Yun-jin), who is taking over his case. She doesn't believe that there actually was somebody else in the hotel room with him because when the police arrived, both the windows and the door were locked from the inside. Gradually, Yang convinces her client to tell the whole truth. Starting with why he visited Se-hee in the first place, after he had already split up with her. It turns out that the two were blackmailed by an unknown person. After Yang gets a call that there is a witness in the case, the lawyer concludes that it couldn't be a witness to the murder, because the room was obviously locked from the inside. Min-ho finally admits that a few months ago, he and Se-hee had a car accident in which the driver of the other car was killed. They tried to cover everything up, but it only made things worse...
Review: I basically lost count of how many thrillers I already watched with the title "Confession", or at least with the word in the title somewhere. And if you look at it closely, this movie from South Korea is not really that original either. Still, almost everything that you would expect from a thriller is done right here. There's a sophisticated story in which one twist follows the next, and there are even smaller surprises scattered throughout the entire movie, so that you always have to pay attention to every detail if you want to be one step ahead of things. But even then, the script often intentionally sets you on the wrong track. That way, "Confession" turns its pace into its biggest strength, while the characters additionally manage to make us wonder who's telling the truth and who's not - and what might be their reasons for it. You hardly have any time to take a breather and get drawn into the movie right away.
However, "Confession" is not original at all, and that's simply because it is a remake of the Italian movie "The Invisible Guest" (original title: "Contratiempo"). It's hardly noticeable, but as soon as you know it, it becomes clear why the flick seems so timeless and why there are barely any cultural peculiarities. Anyway, since the original already drew inspiration from various mystery and crime movies, "Confession" should be full of clichés too. But because everything fits (almost) seamlessly together, it doesn't bother you that much. In addition, you can hardly criticize anything here, because the story is always told from different perspectives, and you can never really trust what you see. This is what makes the movie so appealing, there is no way to be sure which puzzle piece is just made up and which truly belongs to the bigger picture.
Lawyer Yang plays with this concept and tries to reconstruct entire events, only to then set a trap for her client and present a mistake in her story that he now has to explain if it was actually the truth. Yang, played by Kim Yun-jin, who already portrayed a lawyer in the thriller "Seven Days", is a tough career woman who impresses with her extraordinary intellect. She wants to get to the bottom of the truth in order to be able to represent her client properly and win the case. Over time, Yoo also starts to realize this, and he gradually reveals further circumstances which put previously unclear details in a more understandable light. That's a lot of fun, and at some point, it also trims the viewer to pay close attention to everything. Even though the story is quite complex, it's not too convoluted. The complexity stems more from the fact that previously established facts get deconstructed and are then rebuilt in a new way.
Acting-wise, this also demands a lot from the characters. So Ji-sub ("The Battleship Island") portrays the falsely accused and the alleged killer as well as a man who has become a victim of circumstances or even of another woman. Even though this variety of characters means that we can never actually root for anyone emotionally, it's still entertaining and adds color to the events. Actress Nana (mostly known from tv shows like "The Glitch") is also allowed to play the strong and devious woman as well as the victim. Since the movie is mainly told in flashbacks, during which one level superimposes or even replaces the next, the story might have easily become confusing, but this is not the case, as there is a good framework holding everything together. Ultimately, the audience gets a few facts that it can hang on to, but the big mystery of who's the real culprit only gets solved over time.
As already mentioned before, there are countless twists via new revelations that put everything in a new light. Even when you think that everything was already resolved. Along with the numerous interpretations and flashbacks, we thankfully also get an anchor in form of the cabin in which the lawyer questions her client. This creates a dense, sometimes even claustrophobic atmosphere. Eventually, some emotions get added as well. However, there are also more and more silly coincidences towards the end, which makes everything seem a bit too constructed. An aspect that represents a major flaw in the otherwise good script. In addition, the ending also seems a bit rushed. "Confession" may not be a perfect thriller, but it's one that is very compact and knows how to navigate its way through the genre. A suspense-packed thriller that will definitely appeal to genre fans.