Bulldog Productions Ltd., UK, 1978
AKA: Anthony Shaffer’s Absolution, Murder by Confession
Director: Anthony Page
Writer: Anthony Shaffer
Cast: Richard Burton, Dominic Guard, David Bradley, Billy Connolly, Andrew Keir, Willoughby Gray, Preston Lockwood, James Ottaway, Brook Williams, Jon Plowman, Robin Soans, Trevor Martin, Sharon Duce, Brian Glover, Dan Meaden, Hilary Mason, Hilda Fenemore, Robert Addie, Kevin Hart, Philip Leake, Michael Crompton, Andrew Boxer, Richard Willis, Michael Parkhouse, Richard Kates, Martyn Hesford, Clive Gehle, Charles Rigby, Michael Bell, Martin Stringer, Francis Fry, Julian Firth, Tim Short, Keith Macey, Michael Munn.
“Under no circumstances what so ever may a priest break the seal of the confession.”
Father Goddard is a priest and a teacher in a boys’ Catholic boarding school, and during one of his lessons the rules of confession is discussed. Around the same time a drifter shows up on a motorcycle and sets up camp in the woods surrounding the school. One of the schoolboys befriends him but when Father Goddard finds out he makes the boy promise never to see the drifter again and calls the police to make them drive him off.
Soon one of the boys in confession admits to Father Goddard to have killed the drifter and buried him in the woods. Goddard diggs up the shallow grave and finds a scarecrow instead of the drifters body. He is outraged by this prank on him but can’t do much about it since he is bound to silence. Next the boy confesses once again. This time he claims to have really done what he only joked about the first time. He also confesses to have plans for another murder, this time on one of his fellow students.
Goddard must try to prevent the murder and protect the intended victim, but is at the same time still under the seal of confession so he can’t tell anyone what is about to happen.
The movie is a bit slow paced at the start, but the twists of the plot soon got me interested. The acting over all is very good and Billy Connolly does his first role in a movie. Absolution wasn’t released in the US until 1988 (four years after Richard Burton’s death) and in Finland it premiered on Television in 1998. A modern day remake would be interesting to see. Imagine some blood and gore added to this plot.
My verdict: 6 out of 10.