Clive Owen shines in this irresistible comedy about an estranged father and son, who spend a weekend together for the first time in forever, as the boy’s mom (Bello) and her new husband (Modine) leave for a retreat. The mutual unease is exacerbated when the father’s truck breaks down, he gets locked out of his house, and his toolbox, which provides his living, is stolen. As father and son begin to search for the toolbox, their bond leads to something they never imagined: a true family connection.
It's the story of an alcoholic dad and his struggles with life. Yes, it is just as standard as it sounds. Though 'The Confirmation' does have the added advantage of having Clive Owen cast in the principal role, so his acting is able to elevate the script to some degree.
Playing against his usual macho/dreamy type, Owen is a haggard divorced father who simply can't catch a break. Walt is the kind of guy who just seems to be life's punching bag. We open on a scene of Walt trying to start his ragged old truck. It won't start. Things don't exactly get better from there.
His ex-wife Bonnie (Maria Bello) treats him like a deadbeat. We've only just met the sad-sack, so the jury is still out on whether or not Walt is a terrible father. Bonnie mentions that Walt better not drink one drop of alcohol this weekend or his visitation rights will be terminated. Walt professes that he's stopped, but there's something about him that says otherwise. Strike one, Walt.
The other aspect of this movie that makes it somewhat work is Walt's son, Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher). A child who is obsessed with science, is also trying to make a go of it with his mother's religion. In confession he confesses his sins. When the priest asks him what sins he's confession Anthony can't think of any. He's a nice kid. He's naïve about the world in a street-smarts sense, but understands that his dad isn't the most well-off bloke on the block.
When Walt's first stop after picking up his son is at the local bar, we suddenly know something's up. He tells Anthony he's got a line on a job and tells him to stay in the car. Right, Walt. Strike two.
Much of the movie is spent bringing Walt as low as possible. He's lost his family and the house he's built; he barely knows his son; he's an underemployed carpenter; his truck won't start, his tools get stolen, he doesn't have any money; he gets an eviction notice. It's a laundry list of bad luck that seems to all coalesce on this one day. Poor Walt.
As you may have guessed the movie focuses all its time on Walt and Anthony. Here's a dad who doesn't really know his own son. Who, at first, treats him like an acquaintance rather than a family member or friend. It's painful to watch, but moving at the same time. The emotion is conveyed through the acting, since the screenplay is strained with fabricated dramatic elements to create in Walt the worst life imaginable. The way the movie portrays Walt's life it's almost as if he's just the unluckiest man alive rather than someone who made certain choices to get him here. His drinking problem is mentioned, and focused on, but the coincidence of all these horrible things happening to one man on one day is just too much.
Owen is great. Lieberher is superb. Even the supporting cast featuring Robert Forester, Tim Blake Nelson, Patton Oswalt, and Matthew Modine, offers up some great experience. When Patton Oswalt appears as a meth-riddled version of Constable Bob Sweeney from 'Justified' it provides just enough comic relief to provide some levity between the emotional carnage. The acting is the reason to watch this one.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Lionsgate Blu-ray that comes on a 25GB disc. There is a Digital Copy and slipcover included. That's it. It's a barebones release.
The 1080p presentation looks crisp and clear, and more theatrical than other low-budget indies look when they find their way to Blu-ray.
The detail here is quite good. Owen's age is starting to show, and the detail here gives us insight into just how hard of a life Walt has had. He looks like he's been through life's ringer. He really does. His grubby stubble and weathered age lines portray a man who's lived hard and rough.
Color and skintones are natural. I didn't notice much, if any, banding. Shadows were nicely delineated. Dark scenes had some well-defined black areas. All in all, it's a very decent presentation for this type of film.
As you may have guessed the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is centered right up front. Probably about 95-percent of the film's sound comes from the from the front three channels. Most of it coming directly out of the center channel.
There are some small panning effects – a truck or car driving from one side of the frame to the other – that transition through the front channels well. The rear channels are mostly silent, save for some light ambient noise of traffic and talking in a crowded biker bar.
The soundtrack utilizes a smidge of the sub-woofer's capabilities, but you'll hardly ever notice. That's just the kind of movie this is. It's not going to blow you away in the least. It produces clear dialogue and that's all that's really asked of it.
A Father Son Story: Inside the Characters of 'The Confirmation' (HD, 11 min.) – Promotional interviews provided by the principal actors about the film's story.
The Performances of 'The Confirmation' (HD, 8 min.) – Another promo featurette, with more interviews, but this time about the performances in the movie.
Owen and Lieberher are the real reasons to watch this movie. It feels contrived and doesn't genuinely tug at the heartstrings like it intends. It has some solid video and average audio. This one is worth a look if you dig Clive Owen's acting and want to see him do something a little different.