' ' Cinema Romantico: Confess, Fletch

Monday, October 03, 2022

Confess, Fletch

“Confess, Fletch” is based on a book by Gregory McDonald of the same name in which the eponymous investigative reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher (Jon Hamm) returns to his Boston rental home to discover a dead body, calls the police to report it, and is accused of a murder that has something to do with priceless works of art. If you’re worried about spoilers, worry not, I won’t provide any, and couldn’t even if I wanted to since I sort of lost track of the plot by the end anyway. Heck, so does Fletch himself, giving a big kind of “Thin Man”-ish plot explainer that turns out to be comically wrong. True, that means “Confess, Fletch” doesn’t culminate in anything exactly substantial despite undertones of rich and white privilege, but that’s ok. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, the saying goes, and in Greg Mottola’s film it’s not the crime, it’s the solving of it.

Mottola evokes this in the movie’s relaxed pace, made in the image of a main character who prefers bare feet, taking it easy and just sort of asking the audience to dip its toes into so much entertaining easygoingness. A lengthy sequence in which Fletch breaks into a yacht is less about suspense or even action, per se, than witnessing the would-be gumshoe’s shrewdness manifest itself. And when the editing does occasionally accelerate, like the scene between Fletch and his pot-smoking next-door neighbor (Annie Mumolo) who unwittingly sets her stove ablaze, it accentuates the brisk comic exchanges of dialogue while simultaneously serving as a humorous contrast to the nonchalance of Fletch, observing a chaotic world with a wry, detached bemusement. His “nothing to see here,” in a manner of speaking, translates to “good luck with all that.” 

True, “Confess, Fletch” doesn’t really introduce us to Fletch, just sort of dropping us into his existence mid-stream. But Mottola doesn’t want us to get to know him through traditional avenues like backstory, not even when the movie flashes back to Rome, but simply in observing the character’s behavior and Hamm’s air. That goes for other characters too, like the detective on his trail, Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.), the weariness caused by his newborn baby at home a reflection of his weariness at having to deal with Fletch, while his detective trainee Griz (Ayden Mayeri) develops something like a Spy vs. Spy relationship with Fletch that honestly might be the funniest thing in the movie. (Mayeri is so funny she transcends the otherwise predictable punchline of spilling a fast food shake all over herself by transforming her into a hysterically hapless cry of the eternally defeated.) But the movie belongs to Hamm, of course, his entire turn carved out of his air in the way he sneaks into a wealthy person soiree by sort of half-dancing, standing out far more than he is trying to blend in, marking his Fletch as more insouciant Houdini than master of disguise. You’d swear he gets himself fingered for murder just so he can prove he didn’t do it. 

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