At The Movies: Confession encoils, Spirited makes you recoil

So Ji-sub (left) and Kim Yun-jin in Confession. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Confession (PG13)

105 minutes, opens on Thursday

4 stars

The story: A murder suspect (So Ji-sub) and his attorney (Kim Yun-jin) engage in a game of deception to prove his innocence. Neither is what he or she appears to be in this Korean psychological drama.

So plays a hotshot married entrepreneur caught in a hotel room with the bloodied corpse of his mistress. He insists he is innocent, but no other killer could have gotten past the locked door.

Kim co-stars as the ace defence attorney who meets him in a remote snowbound cabin for one long night of cross-examination.

Confession is a tense two-hander intercut with flashback reconstructions of the accused’s testimony – which splinters into conflicting permutations involving blackmail and a hit-and-run as he is coaxed, cornered, tricked and manipulated to disclose what really happened at the scene of the crime.

The slippery characters shift along with his narrative. Former model So toys cunningly with his handsome romantic lead image (Always, 2011), and why the flashes of panic beneath the attorney’s poised professionalism? Korean-American acting stalwart Kim from the survival series Lost (2004 to 2010) gives nothing away until the closing act.

Filling out the mystery is K-pop star Nana as the doomed lover.

Confession is a tense two-hander intercut with flashback reconstructions of the accused’s testimony. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Writer-director Yoon Jong-seok based his intricately constructed puzzle on the 2016 Spanish hit The Invisible Guest.

Even for those familiar with the previous three Italian (The Invisible Witness, 2018), Hindi (Badla, 2019) and Telugu (Evaru, 2019) remakes, this noirish thriller is a suspenseful watch of outrageously unexpected turns as much because of a revised ending as the controlled performances.

Hot take: A densely plotted tale of crime and punishment that encoils viewers from opening kill to twisty finish.

Spirited (PG13)

127 minutes, premieres on Friday on Apple TV+

2 stars

Ryan Reynolds (left) and Will Ferrell in Spirited. PHOTO: Apple TV+

The story: Ryan Reynolds puts his spin on miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge for Apple TV+’s big-budget musical update of A Christmas Carol.

Every Christmas Eve, as Charles Dickens tells it in his 19th-century classic morality tale, three holiday spirits haunt a misanthrope to make him a better person.

Reynolds’ cynical, cold-hearted media consultant Clint Briggs in Spirited is the chosen mission of Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell), and the twist here is their comedy bromance as Briggs, while being reformed, in turn guides the ghost through his existential crisis which includes an attraction to Briggs’ mortal assistant (Octavia Spencer).

Put Ferrell in an Elf (2003) suit and he is Yuletide hilarity. Pair his man-child routine with Reynolds’ snarky humour, however, and they have a double act as atonal as the dozen featured tunes – or is it their shouty singing that is wanting, because the composers are the Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of La La Land (2016) and The Greatest Showman (2017)?

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No matter, and often mid-story for no reason either, director cum co-writer Sean Anders – previously of Ferrell’s Daddy’s Home (2015) and the 2017 sequel – keeps bringing on the splashy Broadway-style spectacles. The support staff at the bureaucratic Ghost World headquarters work overtime as the choreographed chorus of grinning hoofers.

“Why are they singing?” asks one character.

“Because they’re in a musical,” answers another.

This over-produced, hyperactive romp does not know when to quit its self-satisfied meta jokes or sentimental life lessons, so insistent it is on whipping up manufactured seasonal cheer.

Hot take: Loud and smug. What the dickens!

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