The Confirmation short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #MarieLouiseDamgaard

Written by: Marie-Louise Damgaard

Starring: #EllenHillingsø, #XeanPeake, #JesperAronKaplan

Short Film Review by: Corey Bulloch


“I just want to be a completely normal teenager”


No matter your race, creed, or gender everyone wants to feel that they belong as Marie-Louise Damgaard’s film explores the social and familial pressures of a transgender child in a delicate yet uncomfortable setting. All teenagers feel uncomfortable in their own skin but having intimate details of your sexuality and identity become a topic of gossip during a family function is a new level of mortification. Mathias, son of Susanne and formally known as Katrine is set to take part in the sacrament of Confirmation. Before family and friends and God, Mathias shall take part but he wants no attention drawn to himself, something that Susanne cannot allow, as his private transition becomes his mother’s public crusade.


Damgaard makes the film difficult to watch in such a respectful way as the transphobia is reflected through awkward faux pas, ignorance and even how support can be more about the cause than the person. The film is not a progressive diatribe but rather about how the emotional connections between mother and child have no boundaries with Damgaard’s message of acceptance applying to all, ally or enemy we all must be better and listen. It’s one of these films filled with unbearable second-hand embarrassment as you empathise with Mathias’s anxieties despite Susanne’s lioness mothering. Ellen Hillingsø as Susanne is tremendous, embodying that prideful mother who will do anything to protect their child but The Confirmation asks if her headstrong behaviour is more in service to her son’s wellbeing or her pride and seeking recognition for the entire struggle. Her need to protect Mathias blinding her to what he actually needs, a relatable conflict for any parent.


Hillingsø, Xean Peake who plays Mathias and the entire cast feed into the authenticity of what Damgaard wants to explore, that the transition into adulthood is a difficult one and one that parents need to let their children make on their own. The confirmation is the first step in Mathias becoming a man, something that has been a continuous struggle for him his whole life. Obviously symbolic of his gender transition with Damgaard’s script marrying awkward family functions with our own ignorance to transgender issues. Many guests ask Susanne and Mathias about his transgender status and it all stems back to this inability to recognise the emotional weight to this struggle and trivialising it as a phase or even a joke.


Robin Holtz’s cinematography is striking with focus and use of lighting and colour, whites and red really pop as the seemingly natural light gives everything a stunning quality. The Confirmation is just able to get under your skin as Damgaard broaches topics that are controversial but necessary to display how it doesn’t have to be. The strains to Susanne and Mathias's are no different from any other parental relationship, it doesn't diminish the transgender obstacles but makes them universal. Everything leads to making the film be about the acceptance of differences between ourselves and leaves a beautiful heartwarming message for all audiences.

#CoreyBulloch #shortfilm