Clive Owen plays a raggedy, older version of himself as Walt, an out-of-work, alcoholic carpenter who must fake his way to fatherhood of his eight-year-old son, Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher), for twenty-four hours. When Walt’s ex-wife (Maria Bello) and new husband (Matthew Modine) head out on retreat, Walt gets a chance to teach his values … in contrast to the boy’s Catholic confirmation. But are they actually as different as he thinks?
Quietly funny, and definitively charming, The Confirmation also boasts an above average cast (Patton Oswalt and Robert Forster to name a few). But whatever else is going on here, the focus is primarily on how a father and son interact, even when the father hasn’t been there. Whether he’s there or not, there’s a space there for him – and it’s a man’s responsibility to fill it.
While other films have tackled stories like this before, Bob Nelson’s (Nebraska) screenplay and direction take us on an exploration of a good kid in a bad situation, and a discussion of sin. Walt says bad workmanship is a sin, and that translates across most timelines, even if it’s an older model. Rather than focus on what others are doing or not doing, it’s clear that we’re called to do the best with what we’ve got and the time we have. Thankfully, that’s a lesson that father and son are learning here, not just the moldable eight-year-old boy.