Hot Take: Too low-key to be anything better than okay. Jaeden Lieberher is the best actor in Hollywood under the age of 15.
The Confirmation doesn’t do anything special on screen to warrant too much excitement. Clive Owen as Walt, a working class father living paycheck to paycheck who has his son for the weekend, delivers a very good performance. Young Jaeden Lieberher as Anthony, Walt’s son who doesn’t know much about his dad other than what his mom (Walt’s ex-wife Bonnie played by Maria Bello) has told her, continues to be the best young actor in Hollywood. The pair have great chemistry. The supporting cast — Bello, Stephen Tobolowsky, Patton Oswalt, Tim Blake Nelson, Robert Forster, Matthew Modine, Spencer Driver — all add to the movie. The directorial début of Bob Nelson is adequate. However, there’s something missing from The Confirmation to really get you out of your seat with excitement.
Basically, The Confirmation is the story of a father/son relationship that starts miles apart and grows closer together throughout the film as Walt and Anthony spend most of the movie trying to recover Walt’s stolen tools. Their 48 hours together have them interact with a few odd ducks and having a few discussions about life while Walt has the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions planted in his son’s head by his ex. The convoluted scenarios the pair experience are more fitting for episodic television but The Confirmation wouldn’t quite work as such since the film has barely anywhere to go.
Overall, The Confirmation delivers a moderately entertaining experience but offers little in the way of anything overly compelling. If it weren’t for the way Owen and Lieberher play off of each other, it’s likely The Confirmation would be a disaster. Even in that, Owen comes across as a little bland as does the movie. This is a perfect lazy weekend movie but could lose you if your desire is to be cinematically stimulated. The neatly wrapped plot conveniently and predictably plays out, too, adding to the blandness of it all.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
After St. Vincent and Midnight Special, Lieberher has already established himself as arguably the best young actor in Hollywood. Let’s ignore Aloha and focus on The Confirmation which isn’t Lieberher’s best performance but the boy is a pleasure to watch and let’s hope he continues to get roles that allow him to show off his craft.
The film could have veered in one direction or another too heavily and it probably would have been the wrong thing to do. Instead, it stays the course and delivers a moderately paced story with slight undulations rather than big hills and valleys. The pacing is soothing and establishes a watchable rhythm. Again, it’s nothing explosive but it isn’t a borefest.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Divorce Dynamic
How many times have we seen a storyline where two parents are divorced and one never sees the kid and now the seldom seen parent and kid get to spend some time together? Too many times. Worse yet, The Confirmation does very little variation on the plot.
- It Might Be A Comedy But It’s Rarely Funny
The Confirmation identifies as a comedy but it has a serious identity crisis as it plays as a light-hearted moments. Even Patton Oswalt’s appearance in the film isn’t laugh out loud funny but more of something that gives you a wry smile. Watching The Confirmation and expecting it to be a comedy is like biting into something that you’ve been warned was spicy and it actually tastes sweet. It’s not a bad taste, just not what you expect.