I viewed a screener for a great character study this weekend called THE CONFIRMATION, which stars Clive Owen (Children of Men) and young Philadelphia native, Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent). The directorial début of Academy award-nominee Bob Nelson (Best Screenplay – Nebraska), “The Confirmation” tells the story of a down on his luck, recovering alcoholic named Walt (Owen) who is asked by his ex-wife Bonnie (Maria Bello) to care for his 8-year-old son Anthony (Lieberher) while she attends an overnight retreat with her husband. A series of dramatic and oddly humorous events occur when Walt snags a carpentry job, realizes his toolbox was stolen, and sets out to find whoever is responsible and retrieve it back. This all under the edict from his ex-wife to make sure Anthony stays out of trouble before his confirmation in one week.
Similar to Nelson’s celebrated screenplay “Nebraska,” the film is a darkly comedic, small town look at relationships with the central focus on a father-son dynamic. The audience watches both characters as they grapple with internal struggles and questions – Walt with being a better parent and Anthony with faith/religion – and the answers their time together reveals.
Nelson’s strength is his ability to display humanity with simplicity. It isn’t difficult to relate to these characters and their dilemmas – no matter how extraordinary they may seem, they are believable. Owen portrays Walt with an understated determination next to the young Lieberher – who really holds his own throughout and helps drive the faith undertones of the film forward.
Comedian/actor Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens) also makes a very funny cameo as Walt’s associate Drake, who allegedly knows the happenings in town enough to help locate the missing toolbox.
Near the film’s end, Bonnie’s husband Kyle (Matthew Modine) waxes poetic about their take-away from the overnight retreat – learning how to appreciate each other, which was strengthened by increasing communication. Lessons that certainly mirror what’s discovered by Walt and Anthony by the end of their odd journey.
Distributor: Saban Films
Production company: Bungalow Media + Entertainment
Cast: Clive Owen, Jaeden Lieberher, Maria Bello, Matthew Modine, Patton Oswalt, Robert Forster, Stephen Tobolowsky, Tim Blake Nelson
Director-screenwriter: Bob Nelson
Producers: Bob Nelson, Todd Hoffman
Executive producers: Robert Friedman, Robert Halmi Jr., Jim Reeve, Shawn Williamson
Composer: Jeff Cardoni
Release date: March 18
Rated PG-13, 100 minutes