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By Blake de Pastino | Posted

Enough movies have been made about grifters now that if they're not all about the con (The Sting, The Grifters), they'd better be about the con artist (House of Games). It's hard to tell which direction Confidence wants to take, but either way, it ends up in no man's land. In this dim caper, Edward Burns plays the baby-faced leader of a double-dealing crew (Brian Van Holt, just wandering around; Paul Giamatti, at his most annoying; Rachel Weisz, looking bored and undernourished). After mistakenly bilking a mob bookkeeper, the sharps find themselves on the wrong side of the local kingpin (Dustin Hoffman), who demands recompense. To recoup the loss, Burns concocts a con not worth outlining here--except to say it requires a voice-over explaining corporate loan policy--and from there, nothing clicks. Burns fails to convince as a clean-cut professional liar. Hoffman devours each of his 10 screen minutes as the mincing, pill-popping crime boss. And the entrance of a cigar-chomping special agent (Andy Garcia) adds a twist to the plot that makes Confidence about as complicated as a kid's-menu crayon maze. The easiest marks here are the rubes sitting in the audience.

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