[HanCinema's Film Review] "Confession - 2020"
By William Schwartz | Published on
Based on the Spanish film The Invisible Guest, "Confession - 2020" is pretty much exactly what it seems to be- a locked room murder mystery where nothing is at it seems. Incidentally, the locked room aspect of this murder mystery isn't as important as the script makes it sound. Corporate bigshot Min-ho (played by So Ji-sub) appears to have murdered his ex-lover Se-hee (played by Nana), and by the end of the story, a great deal of tension hinges on whether the culprit of this crime will be brought to justice.
For the most part, "Confession - 2020" is just a fairly long-winded and convoluted story by which Min-ho explains under the pretense of mounting a legal defense what plausible explanation can be come up with for how he didn't just murder Se-hee himself. Initially the story is that Min-ho and Se-hee were being blackmailed with having his past love affair with Se-hee being exposed. The most obvious explanation, that Se-hee herself was doing the blackmailing and that Min-ho killed her in impulsive anger, is oddly enough never mentioned.
Nearly the entirity of the story here isn't actually about Se-hee at all, but Seon-jae (played by Seo Young-joo), man who went missing quite some time ago. Initial protestations to the contrary, Min-ho admits that he and Se-hee knew what happened to Seon-jae and that this, not money was the true motivation for the blackmail. I can't exactly describe much more than this without just spoiling the whole mystery, and ruining any reason you might have to want to watch this movie.
To its credit, the mystery in "Confession - 2020" is well-constructed enough that mild snark aside it's easy enough to recommend to fans of the genre if noone else. This South Korean version is the fourth of sixth remakes of the original Spanish film, and changes just enough of the relevant elements that even the story's familiarity can work as a positive. I hadn't seen the original movie, I think, although I still correctly guessed the twist.
The qualifier of "I think" is a pretty critical one because like most whodunits, "Confession - 2020" is interesting in the moment but is definitely the kind of story where memories of it get hazy over time. Ask me to review another remake of this concept seven years from now, and I might not be sure I ever watched this one either. "Confession - 2020" itself does not take a hazy stance on the permanence of memory, for whatever that's worth- characters only lie. They're never mistaken.
So Ji-sub, for his part, makes the most of his screentime to start out as kindof mildly unlikeable only to become genuinely infuriating the longer the story goes on. Although I'm not sure I disliked the character so much as I did writer/director Yoon Jong-seok's tendency to frame the man as if he's credible and intelligent, when he's really just the kind of guy who's used to people doing whatever he tells them to. None of these little nitpicks work to make "Confession - 2020" a bad movie. It's just not a great one either.
Written by William Schwartz
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from YESASIA
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Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea from 2011 to 2021. He is currently located in the Portland metropolitan area. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org, and is open to requests for content in future articles.