MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
On Demand and Streaming on Amazon Video, iTunes, Microsoft Movies, CinemaNow, Fandango NOW, and VUDU.
Directed by Bob Nelson. Starring Clive Owen, Jaeden Lieberher.
At the beginning of The Confirmation we watch Anthony (Lieberher), an 8-year-old boy, making his confession to his neighborhood priest (Stephen Tobolowsky). At least, he’s trying to; he just can’t think of anything to confess. The priest goes down a list of potential misdemeanors – including disrespect of parents, lying, and sexy thoughts – but Anthony simply can’t recall any recent sins. The priest gives him a few prayers just to be on the safe side. Looking up at a crucifix and a suffering Christ, the boy rushes out of the church.
If Anthony is confused about his life, he has good reason to be a bit rattled. His confirmation is just a week away and his mom and stepfather (Maria Bello and Matthew Modine) are about to leave for a Marriage Enrichment Weekend. Anthony’s father Walt (Clive Owen) will spend the weekend with him, taking full responsibility for his safety.
Walt is an alcoholic who is still struggling mightily to get back on the right track. He is a skilled carpenter who is currently unemployed and months behind on mortgage payments. There is some hope when Walt is offered a small job, but hope is quickly dashed when he discovers that the toolbox with his specialty tools has been stolen.
As father and son go on a weekend odyssey to recover the toolbox, Anthony will spend more time looking after his dad than his father will spend caring for his son. The Confirmation is a hopeful little comedy-drama filled with moments of quiet despair accompanied with the possibilities of redemption and forgiveness.
First-time director Bob Nelson also wrote the great screenplay for 2013’s Nebraska and he knows the quirkiness of small town Midwestern characters. He also knows how to evoke gentle humor in the midst of pain and how to evoke good performances from a talented cast. Young Jaeden Lieberher is proving to be a real talent, with fine work in St. Vincent, Midnight Run and now The Confirmation.
As we watch Anthony practice sacrificial love for his father, it becomes apparent that there are many occasions when the spirit of the law creates occasions for the breaking of the law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2)
The Confirmation is a small gem of a movie that I hope you will seek out soon. This film is also a reminder that, in this new age of multiple content providers, there will be dozens of good movies that will never show up at your friendly multiplex theater. If you have yet to enter the world of streaming movies from cable or Internet, this movie might be a good entry point.
Four halos: A touching story of a father and a son and a weekend filled with ethical decisions.
Two pitchforks: Mild swearing; enough white lies to cover a smart board.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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