HBO and Rick Famuyiwa‘s Confirmation (i.e., Anita vs. Clarence) pops tonight, and here’s a review by L.A. Times critic Mary McNamara: “If Anita Hill (Kerry Washington) has no political agenda, pretty much everyone else involves does, and Confirmation is admirably ruthless in its presentation of all of them.
“Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) remains steadfast in his denials and, until the moment when he famously lashes out at what he calls a ‘high tech lynching,’ spends much of the film in signature silence, which Pierce deftly uses to suggest a panoply of emotions, from shock and rage to touching bewilderment, without ever quite committing to one reaction or another.
“His team, on the other hand, is quickly focused. Republican Sens. John Danforth (Bill Irwin), Arlen Specter (Malcolm Gets) and Alan Simpson (Peter McRobbie) are first dismissive, then argumentative and finally resort to outright smear tactics.
“The Democrats aren’t much better. Kennedy (Treat Williams) is hamstrung by his own record with women and Biden, who Kinnear portrays in contrasting tones of self-pity and sincere political anguish, is initially reluctant to sully himself or the proceedings with what he fears is personal, possibly vindictive, dirt.
“Only when forced into action by a small group of female members of Congress does Biden allow time for Hill’s written testimony to be submitted, and only when NPR’s Nina Totenberg somehow gets a copy of that statement does the committee agree to hear Hill’s testimony.
“The rest is painful history, powerfully told.
“Filled with affecting and nuanced performances, Confirmation is an upsetting film to watch, hitting far too close to the bone to feel like a period piece about a regrettable moment from which we have learned.
“Partisan acrimony continues to rule Congress, threatening to obstruct the next Supreme Court appointment; women still struggle to have their issues taken seriously, and though the House and Senate may be more diverse than they were in 1991, the current Congress is still 80% male and 80% white.
“Which may be exactly why we all need to see what happened in 1991 all over again.”