In HBO’s adaptation of the widely known Anita Hill scandal, there are no easy answers and no easy side to pick. Starring Kerry Washington as Hill and Wendell Pierce as the accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Confirmation tells the engrossing story of the unusually heated attempt to get Thomas officially accepted into his position as a justice in the wake of claims of misconduct in his past from a woman that he worked with a decade ago.
What truly worked for the film was the way they presented the two sides to the story; one saying it did happen and one saying it did not. Both were acted and written as though they were telling the truth, both sounded honest and had their own thematic reasons for why they should be the one you believe.
This led the audience to the same dilemma that every person in the nation felt while watching the trial live on the news: one of them is telling the truth and one of them is lying, but which is which? There’s no easy way to tell, leading the audience down the potentially dangerous road of choosing the narrative we think is best.
The acting was great, as it routinely is in any HBO production. Greg Kinnear was especially notable in his supporting actor role for bringing viewers a side of Joe Biden that people have not seen for quite some time and largely forgotten, that of a bumbler failing to adequately handle an important issue.
This is one of the darker moments in the Biden legacy and Kinnear manages to portray his struggle with all the moving parts of the hearing well, even giving an understandable plausibility to certain decisions Biden made that he still attempts to live down to this day.
The leads were predictably great showcases, giving each side of the story humanity and a tragedy that lesser talent could not have carried. These three were the standouts of the film, though everyone else involved carried their roles as necessary and helped stitch this piece together.
A studio that prides itself on tackling timely and progressive subject matter especially in its original films, Confirmation is no exception to HBO’s established habit. Simultaneously dealing with two hotly discussed topics today, race and sexual harassment, with the added wrinkle of subjects that are still alive to this day, Confirmation could easily have made a misstep and come out distasteful or perhaps even offensive.
Despite its barriers, the result is a taut, timely thriller that brings one of the heavily publicized trials in recent American history to new audiences in a sleek and accessible package.
Consider it recommended.