October 31, 2016

The Confirmation

Bob Nelson, 2016
There are many angles in which the Father / Son movie dynamic can be approached in film. In real life it's a complicated relationship. Living up to the expectations of each other, letting each other down, reflections of oneself in your own offspring. Being hard on your self, being hard on your son. Martial troubles that trickle down to the rest of the family.

In The Confirmation, you step into the lives of Walt (Clive Owen) and Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) long after any familial conflict. They are now in a state of reconstruction. Walt and ex Bonnie (Maria Bello) have been divorced for a while, long enough for her to remarry. This is presumably because of Walt's drinking, which reveals itself pretty early on in a conversation between the two when she pleads with him not to drink while taking Anthony for the weekend.

Walt is down on his luck. He's in that sort of purgatory state of existence where he can't seem to get out of his own way. Truck won't start, phones not ringing with construction work. Rent is late, no money to pay the rent. All he really has is this weekend with Anthony. Bad turns to worse when Walt discovers that his antique wooden toolbox has been stolen from the back of his truck while in a local tavern. The film soons morphs into a modern day take on The Bicycle Thief as Walt and Anthony spend most of their weekend together searching for clues. They are forced to approach the (what would be considered) more deplorable people in town that would do that kind of thing (steal toolboxes). Interestingly enough these people don't come off as criminals but more as characters. There is certainly an effort to humanize these types of people in this film. And there is a lot at stake for Walt. With an eviction notice on his apartment door, he desperately needs money right away and not taking the carpentry job on Monday is out of the question.

The Confirmation works largely because of great casting choices. Clive Owen's Walt character solicits sympathy, as the character really needs to. You want Walt to find his tools. You want the relationship between Walt and Anthony to flourish. Walt doesn't take on a victim mentality at all. Not only does he bear the weight of his own mistakes, he bears the weight of his generations mistakes one apologizing to Anthony for leaving his generation with a infrastructural mess to clean up. One should come to expect nothing but an impressive nuanced performance from Owen, who is quietly one of the best working actors in modern cinema. Bello succeeds in her Bonnie role, as she balances the perfect amount of firmness and fairness. Anthony's character works because of its authenticity. He so accurately nails that whole kid being happy with the nothing moments as long as you are with your father. Sitting in front of the TV watching boring black-and-white repeats is enough. Riding shotty in an old pick up truck is enough. The Confirmation is an endearing film that has some appreciation for film history but also has heart in it's own story.

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