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CONFESSOR, THE (aka: THE GOOD SHEPARD) (director: Lewin Webb; screenwriter: Brad Mirman; cinematographer: Curtis J. Petersen; editor: Nick Rotundo; music: Gary Koftinoff; cast: Christian Slater (Father Daniel Clemens), Molly Parker (Madeline Finney), Stephen Rea (Henry McCaran), Gordon Pinsent (Cardinal Ledesna), Nancy Beatty (Lucy Gallagher), Von Flores (Father Andrews), Jordan Hughes (Cameron), Daniel Kash (Jeffrey Altman), Alex Paxton-Beeley (Monica), Shawn Lawrence (Bishop Sorano), Joan Gregson (Mrs. Donelly); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Gary Howsam; Peace Arch; 2004-Canada)
“It’s a nice looking wintry crime drama involving a gay priest accused of murder that turns icy as the story goes into a skid and never recovers.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Second-rate film noir that feels like a TV drama. It’s flatly directed by longtime producer Lewin Webb (“Gone Dark”), as he throws down the gauntlet by playing things out as a good priest vs. bad priest story that uses the Catholic religion as a backdrop. It’s a nice looking wintry crime drama involving a gay priest accused of murder that turns icy as the story goes into a skid and never recovers. Writer Brad Mirman brings a stale and absurd script to the altar that can’t hold a candle to Hitchcock’s 1953 “I Confess,” which followed a similar themed story set in Quebec.

When Father Andrews (Von Flores) of a poor church is accused by the police of murdering a male prostitute who worked in a shelter the priest was supervising, the accused asks for hotshot fundraising and PR whiz Father Daniel Clemens (Christian Slater) to help him find the real killer but will not use what he heard in confession to clear his name. Father Daniel is a smoothy who is tight with the church leaders such as the pompous Cardinal (Gordon Pinsent), the creepy church lawyer (Stephen Rea), and the pragmatic Bishop (Shawn Lawrence), teams up with feisty TV reporter and ex-flame Madeline Finney (Molly Parker) to investigate and bring to justice the real killer despite all parties in the church wanting the investigation to end with the supposed suicide of Father Andrews.

In the course of this investigation Father Daniel learns to feel sorry for himself for having lost the way to serve God and will have a conversion before the third reel ends to return to the idealistic reasons he became a priest and gave up materialism and chicks (emulating Father Andrews). Father Daniel also get into a bloody fight for his life with the real killer in the church, which gives the viewer some action to walk away with since hardly anything thought provoking emerged out of this rather routine whodunit.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”