Bob Nelson‘s The Confirmation (Saban, 3.18 limited and on iTunes) hasn’t generated much pre-release heat but it’s an ace-level thing — a quietly rewarding, deftly layered, richly embroidered character drama. Okay, a “family” drama but I’ve always hated that term. I also hate the term “father-son saga” but that’s more or less the shot. But it’s the singer, not the song.
This is a simple, small-town thing (shot in a Vancouver suburb) about the revealing of character and the finding of a stolen tool box. Sounds small and maybe a bit marginal, right? It’s not. It hits fundamental notes.
The set-up is an agreement by Walt (Clive Owen), a divorced dad and recovering alcoholic with an irregular income, to look after his son Anthony (St. Vincent‘s Jaeden Lieberher) for a day while his ex-wife Bonnie (Maria Bello) and her religious-minded husband Kyle (Matthew Modine) are off on a trip of some kind.
The story is driven by Walt’s missing toolbox, which he needs for a job that starts Monday morning. But the film is more about Walt and Anthony’s character and decisions as they make their way around town, moving from lead to lead and incident to incident, all the while accepting the kindly counsel of Walt’s old pal Otto (Robert Forster) and some less-than-reliable assistance from a pair of local tradesmen, Vaughn and Drake (Tim Blake Nelson, Patton Oswalt)
Director-writer Nelson supplies the same kind of subtle weaving of character and small-town detail that he put into his Nebraska screenplay (which won him a Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay), and he gets just-right performances from Owen (best thing he’s done since Closer) and Lieberher along with the supporting ensemble. Everyone delivers.