**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS**
The TV adaptation of Colleen Hoover’s novel Confess debuted on Go90 earlier this week. After watching the first two episodes that dropped early, I thought, wow, they’ve really done the novel justice. Confess totally pulls off a delicate balancing act, delivering a series that will satisfy the novel’s fan base and can attract viewers who’ve never read the book.
Here’s the story: Years after the death of her first love, Auburn has moved to LA to be closer to son, who lives with his grandmother. She’s got a job in a nursing home, but stumbles on an opp to make some extra cash working an opening at Owen Gentry’s art studio. His latest exhibition is based on anonymous confessions people put through the mail slot on his door. Owen, for his part, has a complicated relationship with his dad, a high profile attorney. The main arc is driven by the blossoming romance between Auburn and Owen and the secrets they’re keeping from each other. The cast is rounded out by Sherilyn Fenn as grandmother Lydia; Rocky Myers as Trey and Amy Pham as Auburn’s roommate, Emory.
If you loved the book, you’ll probably love the show. The chemistry between Auburn Reed (Katie Leclerc) and Owen Gentry (Ryan Cooper) is delicious.The fits and starts of Auburn fighting her attraction to Owen are some of the series’ best moments, from their initial meeting when they totally check each other out, to when Owen shows her some of the actual confessions, to their 10-second slow dance in his loft (and that song by ShyGirls is a total jam).
The show looks good, though I’m sure the budget was tiny. The major moments fans are looking for are there. Of course, some of the details are changed to accommodate production and cram the story into 7 episodes. Sorry OwenCat fans, she’s not a real cat this time.
Leclerc is so damn charming and expressive as Auburn, and it’s the small things that make her performance standout. She punctuates nervous and tense moments with a winning smile. I laughed out loud when she dodged Owen’s attempt to kiss her by downing a glass of water, but then giving him a sidelong peek a moment later.
Cooper brings a natural charm and sensitivity to Owen. His resemblance to Jamie Dornan (I think it’s the beard) doesn’t hurt either. It’s nice to finally see a hero who, though he has his issues, isn’t a hot mess on a daily basis. He’s just a stand-up guy, working on his art, who’s seemingly unaware of his own hotness. Complicated barely begins to describe the deal with his bad, but Owen’s not broken, instead, somehow he’s open and sweet.
The soundtrack is great. It features music from bands and artists including the Boom Circuits, the Cary Brothers, ShyGirls and Anikiko, among others. They were all new to me. Did I mention ShyGirls’ What If I Can, featured in the second episode?! It’s on repeat for me this week. Get the Spotify playlist here.
The Less Good
Confess touches on, but never really deals with some heavy topics: death, postpartum depression, drug addiction, domestic abuse. It would be tough to address any of them fully, let alone in 7 episodes, so they don’t really. It leaves you to connect the dots on what’s making Lydia such a nightmare and wondering what Trey’s problem is beyond jealousy. I was glad they aged up both Auburn and Owen to raise the stakes a little, but if we say Auburn is in her mid-20s, her cluelessness about the cost and complexity of a custody battle struck me as hopelessly naive. If you hdsn’t had custody for 8-10 years, wouldn’t you have done some research?
Whatever small quibbles I may have with the execution, Confess is worth watching. And it’s definitely worth reading. Even more importantly, if it’s successful for Awestuck and Go90, it will open the door to more romance and New Adult novels being developed into filmed entertainment for women. And that’s a good thing. Word on the street is Christina Lauren is working with the same producers on developing a show based on the Beautiful series. Fingers crossed.
Get the book: Confess by Colleen Hoover.