28th February 2020
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Ware Arts Review
Led by the terrific performances of Clive Owen and the
continuously impressive Jaden Lieberher, The Confirmation is a
father-son story of high emotional and spiritual value.
The directorial debut from Bob Nelson (Oscar nominated
screenwriter of Nebraska), this heartfelt story takes its cues from
The Bicycle Thief (1948 Italian classic by Vittorio De Sico) in its
story of alcoholic, divorced father Walt (Clive Owen) who connects
with his son Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) as the pair search all
over town for Walt’s stolen tools, which the down on his luck
carpenter needs to commence a new job.
Both Owens and Lieberher are exceptionally good in their parts. Owens has steadily developed a career of great character performances of very flawed men trying to mend their broken souls through great emotional and spiritual trials, as he does so convincingly here. Meanwhile Lieberher continues to impress with his turn as the soul and heartbeat of The Confirmation, securing his position as one of the best young talents working today, building on his performances in Midnight Special and the before mentioned St. Vincent.
The “Catholic” part of the story (and indeed the film’s title) comes into play as young Anthony is set to receive his first communion and confirmation in a week’s time, as encouraged by his mother Bonnie (Maria Bello) who had recently remarried and returned to the Church. She begrudgingly leaves Anthony with Walt as she attends a retreat for Catholic couples.
In an amusing opening scene young Anthony struggles to name his sins while in confession. His priest (the forever brilliant Stephen Tobolowsy) is bemused by the whole situation. After all, with all matter of sins to choose from, how can a 12-year-old boy not have at least committed the sin of disobeying his mother and father?
By the time the weekend is over that sin tally will be long, yet it’s of the “grey” variety, the likes that God will no doubt pardon, especially considering the situation of dealing with a father whose addiction has led him to a life of disarray.
Yet through sin comes forgiveness, and from forgiveness comes change, and in Anthony’s skirting with “the grey” in order to protect and better his father, a lesson is learned that sometimes doing wrong just might be the right thing. Bob Nelson has done a great job in delivering that message.
A rather great but bittersweet comedy and a true story
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