Confession, the movie

Confession, the movie

Melanie and I watched a good movie on DVD last night, called “Confession”. It was recommended to me by Steven Greydanus, whose own review of the movie can be found at his site.

I concur completely with Steven’s review. The plot is the classic question of “what if a killer confessed his crime to a priest and then the priest became the prime suspect?” In other words it’s an examination of the seal of the confessional, which fascinates us because of the self-sacrifical nature of the seal and how it requires the confessor to literally defend it to the death.

Contrivances in the plot

The premise is that a student at a Catholic boarding school kills someone in a fit of rage and then confesses to the priest, as the investigation progresses the priest becomes the prime suspect and can’t defend himself without breaking the seal. Unfortunately, this opens up the biggest plotholes. In order to get his characters as deeply entwined as possible, leaving them no way out, the writer/director Jonathan Meyers (who wrote it as a high school freshman and directed it 10 years later as a 24 year old) makes the seal even more stringent than it really is. The priest could have conceivably defused much of the situation with a simple statement that reveals nothing to the police about the confession itself. “I was hearing the confession of Luther Scott at about the time of the murder.” But if the character said that, the movie would fade away in a wisp of smoke.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • This sounds like a remake of Hitcock’s classic “I Confess”.

    If you haven’t seen the original yet, do so. It’s great.

  • Domenico:

    I may be overly strict, but I believe a priest cannot reveal that he has heard someone’s confession. In any case, I never acknowledge having heard anyone’s confession—if someone says, “oh, my husband came to see you the other day,” I respond with a smile, “Hmmm . . . I can’t say.”

  • I am pretty sure that Father Fox is right, this was part of the reason for the screen in the confessional.

  • Canon Law states that a Confessor can use nothing discovered in confession to betray a penitent. 

    Canon 1550 §2 The following are deemed incapable of being witnesses:  2° priests, in respect of everything which has become known to them in sacramental confession, even if the penitent has asked that these things be made known.

    “Everything” here would seem to include the penitents identity.