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Rick Famuyiwa
Kerry Washington, Wendell Pierce, Greg Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright
Writing Credits:
Susannah Grant

Tagline: Synopsis:
Judge Clarence Thomas' nomination to the United States' Supreme Court is called into question when former colleague, Anita Hill, testifies that he had sexually harassed her.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Brazilian Portuguese
Supplements Subtitles:
Brazilian Portuguese

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/2/16

• “Kerry Washington On the Historical Impact” Featurette
• “Wendell Pierce On the Historical Impact” Featurette
• Character Spots


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Confirmation [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 25, 2016)

Back when the US Senate actually held hearings to confirm Supreme Court nominees, these debates could become contentious. One famous case occurred in 1991, when the proceedings to replace retired Justice Thurgood Marshall went down complicated paths that we follow in HBO’s 2016 docu-drama Confirmation.

After a quick overview of historical issues, Confirmation picks up soon after President George HW Bush nominates Judge Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Marshall’s retirement. Rumors abound that Thomas mistreated female employees, and Senator Edward Kennedy’s aide Ricki Seidman (Grace Gummer) gets a lead in this pursuit.

This directs Seidman to the University of Oklahoma, where Anita Hill (Kerry Washington) teaches law. Hill claims that Thomas sexually harassed her when she worked under him as an attorney in the early 1980s. We follow the proceedings as Hill testifies and creates a firestorm of controversy.

Spoiler alert: Thomas’s nomination goes through and he becomes a Supreme Court justice, a position he still holds 25 years later. Many questioned Hill’s account of events – and many still do, as the entire affair ended up in “he said, she said” territory with no clear “truth” ever to emerge.

That leaves a big question about Confirmation: would it take one side or would it try to represent both perspectives in a fairly equal manner? One look at the Blu-ray’s cover – with its focus on Washington as Hill – should provide the answer.

Personally, I suspect Hill did tell the truth, but I still would’ve liked more balance in Confirmation. The movie makes its pro-Hill POV so abundantly clear that it occasionally feels like propaganda.

And propaganda without as much historical perspective as I’d like. I’m old enough that I can recall all these shenanigans from when they happened, so for me, I wanted a Confirmation that gives me information I wouldn’t have seen via TV broadcast of the hearings.

Some of that does come from Confirmation, as we receive occasional glimpses all the backstage antics. Those become the most interesting aspects of the film, as they give us a hint of the political maneuvering that influenced events.

An awful lot of Confirmation simply recreates the actual hearings, though, and without a lot of added perspective. I accept and understand that the film needs to show a fair amount of these events, but I think it relies too heavily on them and doesn’t branch out as often as it should.

Again, the lack of balance also becomes an issue. While I’m fine with a certain filmmakers’ slant, I think Confirmation would work better if it at least attempted some objectivity.

But it doesn’t – and even though I sided with Hill and think she suffered serious injustice, a drama about the topic really needs to flesh out Thomas better than Confirmation does. Poor Pierce gets little to do other than fume and look angry – the movie barely develops Thomas.

Hill receives better exposition, of course, but even those moments seem somewhat one-note. We find her presented as the victimized truth-teller without much depth beyond that. If the movie wants to concentrate heavily on Hill, I think it can then find the room to make her more three-dimensional.

All these complaints aside, Confirmation does offer a professional and entertaining affair. It can be intriguing to revisit the events of 1991 through the prism of 2016, and the movie gets the feel for the era right. It conveys the national mood and the furor about the Thomas hearings in a positive manner.

I just wish it had dug a little deeper. As it stands, Confirmation provides an effortless 110 minutes but not an especially illuminating experience.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Confirmation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I thought the Blu-ray provided consistently satisfying visuals.

Sharpness was generally very positive. A smidgen of softness appeared in some interiors, but those instances were minor. Instead, the program demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy the vast majority of the time. I witnessed no instances of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared minimal. Source flaws also failed to interfere.

Colors stayed fairly subdued for the most part. The settings didn’t favor a dynamic palette, but the hues looked reasonably accurate and full, with a not-unexpected emphasis on teal and orange. Blacks were acceptably dark and deep, while shadows showed generally positive delineation. Overall, I found this to be a strong presentation.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Confirmation, it worked pretty well. Not exactly an action extravaganza, the soundscape doesn’t offer a whole lot of note. A few scenes – like at hearings or on streets – opened up the mix in a minor way. This was a chatty movie overall, though, so one shouldn’t expect much from the soundfield.

Audio quality always appeared positive. Music showed warm, full tones, and effects – as low-key as they were – sounded accurate and concise. Speech was an important factor that worked fine; the lines were consistently distinctive and natural, though a little edginess crept in at times. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio remained more than acceptable.

A few minor extras appear, and we find two featurettes under the banner …On the Historical Impact. One focuses on actor Kerry Washington (1:33) while the other gives us actor Wendell Pierce (1:16). They give us brief thoughts about characters and story. These clips tell us little and exist as promotion.

Character Spots runs 13 minutes, 29 seconds and provides comments from Washington, Pierce, and actors Greg Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Eric Stonestreet, Bill Irwin, Zoe Lister-Jones, Grace Gummer, Treat Williams, Dylan Baker, Alison Wright, Malcolm Gets, Jennifer Hudson and Peter McRobbie. Each actor gives us short thoughts about their characters. Like “Impact”, the “Spots” lacks depth and exist to advertise the film.

At its best, Confirmation provides an enjoyable take on controversial events from 25 years ago. Unfortunately, it lacks the insight it needs to be more than basic entertainment. The Blu-ray provides very good picture as well as adequate sound but it lacks notable supplements. While a decent snapshot of its era, Confirmation doesn’t rise as high as it should.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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