A great independent film, a screener of this film was supplied to me in exchange for an honest review. A great character study with a hard story buried under a light humour.
Director: Matthew Tibbenham
Screenwriter: Nathan Shane Miller
Starring: Jessica Lynn Parsons, Sarah Schreiber, Clayton Nemrow
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by: Pearl
A young priest is setting up to spend his evening taking the confessions of his parishioners. In fourth wall breaking moments, he addresses the audience directly, telling us about his crisis of faith, about how he is tired of the same people coming back week after week having committed the same sins over and over. He feels like he isn’t helping anyone and that no one really wants his help. Then a young, combative girl walks into his confessional and his evening takes a very interesting and self-reflective direction.
Father Morris is played by Clayton Nemrow and thank the lord (no pun intended) he gives a magnificent performance. The film is very much a character study, focussing on him and in a lesser degree Amber, the young girl who comes to confession. Without the great performances by both of these actors, and great performances we surely do get, this film would have fallen entirely flat. There is no real plot to mention and the entirety of the film takes place in a 10ftx10ft room, so these actors didn’t have a lot to work with to bring the script alive. Luckily, the polarizing differences in their characters personalities and the witty dialogue between the two mean that the film never feels boring.
What little actual story the film has revolves around Father Morris’ infatuation with one of his parishioners Mary, whose husband is cheating on her. A fact Father Morris only knows because her husband’s mistress confesses to him every week. It is through this infatuation, a misunderstood confession from Mary and some goading from Amber that leads Morris to decide to throw in the towel and quit the priesthood. He says and does some pretty dramatic things towards the end of this film, but it is strangely another conversation with Amber, who had such a strong role to pay in making his question his faith in the first place, that although left a little ambiguously, seems to imply that he has made his peace with his faith.
The film is told in more or less real time, so all the events of this film take place in a roughly two hour timeline. All this drama in such a short space of time can make the film feel a little soap opera-y. But the light hearted comedy that runs throughout the entire film, plus a few very serious, heavily emotional moments stop it from veering straight over into melodrama.
It’s not a laugh out loud comedy but the humour is there and it does make you smile and chuckle throughout. The film isn’t plot heavy, but it does tell an interesting and important story. This will definitely not be for everyone. But for lovers of more character focussed stories, it could be a great hit.
‘Surviving Confession’ has just hit Amazon Prime and is free to view for members and is available to buy from other outlets below: