Resolved to produce an artistic independent film worthy of a premiere at Cannes, famous genre director Byeong-cheon (Bae Sung-woo (배선우) prepares to interview a local teenager for the lead role. With his sullen daughter Na-rae (Han Jae-in (한재인) out on a day trip with her estranged mother, the director welcomes prospective actor Se-young (Jeong Seong-il (정성일) into his home and begins to record their conversation on camera. Yet the interview takes an unexpected turn when Byeong-cheon begins asking questions about Se-young’s connection to Na-rae, and as the two attempt to psychologically outmaneuver each other the situation escalates into dark territory.
Unconfessional is an attempt at constructing a scaled-down character-driven thriller, and is a noble effort by director Choe In-gyu (최인규). The great strength of the film lies in the location, a wonderfully labyrinthian homestead featuring multiple tiers and arenas within which director Choe wisely keeps the action confined. The narrative is also initially good at generating suspense and in keeping the motives of Beong-cheon and Se-young concealed, imparting various red herrings to deter audiences from predicting their true intentions.
Yet following the rather intriguing opening, Unconfessional slips into a comedy-thriller of sorts through a combination of overacting, laughably silly twists and turns, and hilariously bad dialogue. Just how much director Choe intended such humourous features to be part of the film’s identity is open for debate, yet it is certainly entertaining as well as effective at lightening the darker moments of the narrative. “How dare you not know George Michael!” Byeong-cheon excessively exclaims as he violently discusses music with Se-young, before accusing the teen of using his “nasty banana” with daughter Na-rae and throwing a cup of urine in his face. Such darkly-comedic scenes – undoubtedly receiving contributions from poor subtitling – tend to replace tension with farce, yet it is consistently amusing.
Unfortunately however, as Unconfessional enters its final act the film becomes subsumed beneath the various twists, odd characterisation and the genre requirement for a final revelation. It all becomes quite nonsensical, through the bizzarity of Byeong-cheon and Se-young’s connection and the poor technical prowess displayed during their conflict, while the last-minute inclusion of Na-rae who, along with her mother, were largely written out of the script for much of the running time, combines to lead to a rather unsatisfactory conclusion.
Unconfessional is a noble effort by director Choe In-gyu to create a scaled-down thriller, one which is initially good at concealing character motivation. Yet the film – unintentionally or otherwise – slips into a comedy-thriller of sorts through laughable twists and turns which ultimately leads to a nonsensical and disappointing climax.