'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' is an 'autobiographical' (and notice I put 'autobiographical' in quotes!) account of Chuck Barris – the American entertainment guru of his day (and possibly a distant grandfather of our own Simon Cowell, in my opinion), best known for such televisual greats as 'The Gong Show' and the 'Newlyweds Show.' The reason this film's authenticity is called into question is because it's based on Chuck Barris' own autobiography – and his account of things is sometimes a little open to interpretation.
The film definitely tells some true aspects of his life. It shows how he became the brains behind (and sometimes in front of) various primetime gameshows of yesteryear. However, his private life was apparently even crazier than his public life. He was also a hit-man for the CIA. Possibly. Anyway, however unlikely this little sideline was it still makes for a damn entertaining film.
George Clooney is the director (and extended cameo throughout the film) who brings this wild tale to life. And, if this is an example of his style behind the camera, I think he should do more. The film is deliciously artistic and almost every shot is lovely crafted, utilising some decent little camera tricks to propel the story. Sometimes it may try a little too hard, but, in all, it's a very impressive piece.
As mentioned, Clooney himself appears in front of the cameras well here and there, but it's Sam Rockwell who carries the film as Barris himself. Rockwell throws himself into every scene, doing everything he can to bring the complicated character to life. You may not like the character he portrays, but, even if the whole 'hired killer' side of the story his fake (in real life, as it's played as very real on screen) Barris must have been one hell of an interesting character to know, let alone try and get inside his head.
With Rockwell stealing every scene, it's sometimes difficult to notice all the other characters trying to catch up with him, but the main exception is Drew Barrymore. You could look at her as 'just the love interest' but, in her own way, she's almost as damaged as Barris himself. There's probably a film that could be made out of her life story too, but she's a tragic figure in her own right – it's just a shame they don't give us more explanations as to her motivation.
Whereas some of Barris' tales we'll probably never know the validity for (the CIA does totally deny ever contacting him about anything!) some of the 'facts' are blatant lies – check Wikipedia for examples of this! However, whether the whole story or just part of it is true, nearly true or completely false, it really doesn't matter. It's got fantastic performances, amazing direction and it's a deeply dark and enjoyable tale either way.
Also, it's not just Clooney himself who makes an appearance – watch out for some of his mates silently popping up here and there.