HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Confirmation
HTS Overall Score:73
The very first comparison that comes to mind when watching Bob Nelson’s “The Confirmation” is the obvious parallels between it and one his early written films, “Nebraska”. While the setting may be different and the ages of the father and son quite different the major themes running through both coincide with each other. A down and out father and his slightly goofy son have to come together and find some sort of equilibrium in this life that seems to be battering them to and fro. The story is mainly shot through the eyes of the son in “The Confirmation”, but it acts as a small slice of life, spanning the perspectives of the father as well as a brief stint by the mother, but then coming to a happy equilibrium with both father and son meeting somewhere in the middle by the time the credits roll. There’s plenty of dysfunction going on, and the plot sometimes meanders around, but the actual plot devices and incidences that put the plot forward are fairly disposable. The real focus and primary goal of the movies is the two male’s coming to a position in their life where they can love and respect the other.
The film opens and closes with a bracket of confessions to father Lyons (a hilarious Stephen Tobolowsky) from one young Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher). The opening one drastically differs from the closing meeting as Father Lyons prods and probes the innocent young boy to see if he’s committed any sins that day. Anthony is obviously naïve to the situation and cutely answers by asking what a sin looks like. Shortly after his confession his mother (played by Mario Bellow) hands him off to his recovering alcoholic father, Walt (Clive Owen) wherein the two males set off for the weekend as this is Walt’s days of custody. Right off the bat you can tell something is wrong, as Walt has to stop into the tavern to find out about a job opportunity only to have his tools stolen from his truck. Now Walt and Anthony have to drive across town and back in an effort to find the stolen tools only to find out that no one knows where they are and as luck would have it, Walt comes back to find out his landlord has evicted him.
While the main plot device to the film is Walt and Anthony looking for their tools, it’s much more about the journey rather than the destination. Walt is desperately in need of money and on his very last of his nine lives, but still expends the energy to try and stay sober for his on. There’s a few instances where you can tell that his alcoholic nature wants to take over, but Walt is able to bypass those pitfalls with the help of his son Anthony’s forethought. Director/writer Bob Nelson paints a very clear picture of Walt’s character during the hour and 41 minute film. Walt is very much a flawed hero, with a tendency to want to drink, and he’s living with the bed that he made, but there is still that honorable side to him. Even when he doesn’t have to Walt puts every amount of pride in his work, finishing up flaws that didn’t need to fixed in his ex-wife’s house, or trying his best to instill a work ethic in the impressionable and slightly naïve Anthony.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=72097[/img]Tonally the movie feels very much like the Criterion film “Bicycle Thieves”, not only because there is some theft of product that will help daddy dearest make a living, but in the simplistic and meandering way the plot unfolds. Instances and situations are taken at face value and there are times when you wonder just what the point of the movie is. However by the end of the movie I had this warm and satisfied feeling in the pit of my stomach. The kind you get when you watch something happy happen, even though there is really not that much happiness in the film. Patton Oswalt comes into the film for a section of the tool quest, and his inclusion is really the only comedic elements of the film, besides a wry chuckle here and there. Sadly, that comedic element almost disrupts the flow of the entire narrative, as Oswalt’s humor seems drastically out of place for the type of film that Nelson was crafting up until that point.
Acting wise I really have to give props to Owen and Jaeden. Both actors have a sort of bittersweet chemistry that made them feel so real, yet so raw and rough at the same time. Mario Bellow and Mathew Modine are only in the film for a little bit, but they do well with the small roles that have been tossed their way, with honorable mentions going out to the fun smaller cameo roles. Tim Blake Nelson and Michael Eklund shine as the two blue collar workers that help Walt get his tools back and Stephen Tobolowsky is able to pull a laugh out of the audience without ever really cracking a joke. Which brings me to the last bracket of the film. The very final confession between father Lyons and Anthony. I won’t spoil the exact details of the event, but sufficed to say that it brings the film around full circle, but this time with a new bag full of learned lessons and mistakes.
Rated PG-13 for Some Mature Thematic Elements
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=72105[/img]Lionsgate’s 1.85:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray looks appropriately pleasing, and while I cannot say for certain as I couldn’t exactly find out what cameras where being used, it has a decidedly filmic look to it. Much of the film takes place in dingy areas, with lots of grime, grease and rundown dilapidation are present. So the colors match that tone with ambers, earth browns and a soft lighting that sometimes gives the picture a softness to the naked eye. Still details are pleasing enough, with plenty of facial nuances and bits of the scenery giving off plenty to enjoy. There are splashes of primaries, like the green of the garden where Anthony and Walt get run off from, and a few bits from a passing car, otherwise the color spectrum tends to be a bit drab. Shadow detailing is good, but never great, and the dim lighting allows some crush to seep in here and there (along with a few very minor instances of color banding in the shadows).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=72113[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on board the disc is exactly what one would expect from a drama. Dialog is the central focus of the mix and the voices are well balanced in the center channel, where most of the action takes place. The surrounds are fairly mild most of the time, but there is just enough little bits of sonic rear placement to keep it from being totally front heavy. The sound of rain drops falling in Vaughn’s back yard, or the yelling from when Anthony and Walt steal back their tools creates a nice sense of background for the scenarios. LFE is tight and clean, but usually fairly mild, acting as low end support for cars starting, or doors slamming shut. It’s a nice track, a bit simplistic, but equally pleasant and does everything the mix asks of it.
• “A Father-Son Story: Inside the Characters of The Confirmation” Featurette
• “The Performances of The Confirmation” Featurette
“The Confirmation” is a strangely meandering slice of life drama that balances a bit bleak reality with touching and heartfelt hope that works well to the strong suits of an aging actor and sweet young newcomer. There are a few flaws with the narrative and sometimes I wondered just where they were going with the script, but writer/director Bob Nelson has done a good job at keeping the drama touching, yet appropriately realistic at the same time. Audio and video are impressive and shouldn’t disappoint the viewers, but sadly there is only a very small accompaniment of extras to round out the disc. Definitely recommended for a watch.
Starring: Clive Owen, Mathew Modine, Maria Bello
Directed by: Bob Nelson
Written by: Bob Nelson
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 101 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 7th 2016
Buy The Confirmation On Blu-ray at Amazon
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