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The Independent Critic

Directed by
Tanel Toom
Written by
Tanel Toom, Caroline Bruckner
Aran Bell, Joe Eales, Lewis Howlett
Running Time
26 Mins.

 "The Confession" Review 
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Tanel Toom's 2011 Oscar nominee for Best Live-Action Short, The Confession is a deceptively simple film that does a slow build towards an emotionally resonant and satisfying conclusion that is a definite detour from where it all begins.

Two young friends, Sam (Lewis Howlett) and Jacob (Joe Eales), are feeling a bit anxious about their first experience with confession. What will they say? What will they do? Sam, in particular, is a quiet and sincere 9-year-old with a problem that wouldn't be a problem if he weren't a 9-year-old about to experience his first confession. With a clear conscience, Sam really has nothing to say and very little time to do something about it. When he and Jacob decide to remedy the problem, their innocent prank turns unexpectedly tragic.

While the Oscar nominees for the 2011 animated shorts are a tad disappointing this year, the live-action shorts may very well be the best group in a few years. The Confession takes a fairly basic topic that has been covered any number of times in films long and short, but Tanel Toom fashions the film in such a way that its complete and utter ordinariness add to the sense of anxiety and emotion that arise as the film winds down.

The film is led by strong performances from co-leads Lewis Howlett and Joe Eales, who are so charming in the film's early scenes that the film's transcendence of its lightly comical tones is not just surprising but leaves a remarkable impact. Paul Lambert's original score is stellar, while Davide Cinzi's camera work manages to capture both the innocent playfulness of childhood and the stark drama that unfolds. The film benefits greatly from Tanel Toom's patient direction, allowing the drama to unfold slowly and in such a way that never feels manipulative or forced.

It's going to be difficult to pick a winner for the Academy Award this year, but win or lose Tanel Toom's The Confession is an unforgettable experience.