This Is Martin Bonner Reviews

Page 1 of 2
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2014
This unexpectedly excellent drama which will slowly draw you in, is written and directed by Chad Hartigan. The film stars Paul Eenhoorn as Martin Bonner, an Australian man in his late 50s forced to relocate to Reno, Nevada for a new job and his attempts to acclimate and make new friends. Through his work at a prison rehabilitation non-profit organization, he meets Travis Holloway (Richmond Arquette), and the two men form an unlikely friendship. The stories of Martin and Travis slowly converge, as the two men meet and find that they have much in common, not the least of which is an unspoken need for encouragement and support. Their unlikely friendship blossoms but is put to the test when Travis betrays Martin's trust in order to reunite with his estranged daughter.

This movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best of NEXT. If I have to ask myself why, there is so many things that could contribute to the answer... it was acted with smart restraint and shot with corresponding composure.. this sombre drama was built out of small moments of naturalistic behaviour which were acutely observed... the directing was unobtrusive and sophisticated... secular spirituality in its best! There is more, but even those are enough!

If you decide to watch this film you'll be surprised - there is no other option! You will witness uncommon tale of redemption that may leave you with an uncanny sense of peace. Not everything is conventional, and the imagistic approach to narrative will leave some bitter taste with some critics and viewers. It didn't for me, I liked it. (I am really glad that this was my 1100th review!)
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2013
Wait, hold on, this is Martin's what now? I'm sorry, that was kind of risky there, especially for me, that one jerk who makes sure that his reviews are squeaky clean, ostensibly for the young folks who will never, ever read these articles, but come on, don't tell me that you weren't thinking it. You probably weren't, because no one is talking about this film, which is so low profile that it co-stars an Arquette sibling. ...I don't necessarily need to emphasize which one it is, seeing as how the thought that any Arquette is getting attention is mind-blowing, so it's really adding insult to injury when I say that, of all of those, like, twenty kids, it's Richmond we're talking about... something that I'd imagine has rarely, if ever been said before. Well, if this film delivered no other piece of relieving information to me, it's that Richmond Arquette is still alive, and that Australians can, in fact, get old. I've gotten so used to Aussies being the young, hip part of the world, probably because AC/DC have yet to figure out that they're too old to be frolicking about in schoolboy outfits, but lo and behold, here's an older Aussie... I think. Yeah, Paul Eenhoorn is himself so forgotten that it's even difficult to find his age, which is a shame, because the man's pretty talented, as is Ri... um, Richm... Richmo... Ricky Arquette (I already forgot his name; that's it, right?), though that's not to say that either man is skilled enough to make you ignore the jokes in the main character's last name-I mean, the flaws in this film, or at least the story limitations.

First off, what really does a number on the bite of this drama is its simply being sort of simple, being a slice-of-life film that focuses on folks going about their business, dealing with conflicts that offer only so much unique meat, which isn't to say that this film doesn't, oddly enough, find some difficulty to its getting a grip on what focus it actually has. While this film's two sides of the story often meet, the leaps between the titular lead and the secondary Travis Holloway lead prove to be jarring at times, largely because the film has a tendency to spend too much time with either story. As if uneven focus isn't enough for you, the film also suffer from uneven pacing, running a startlingly short 83 minutes, and showing just how minimalist this subject matter is by still making time to feed excessive material with overlong dialogue sequences and expendable set piece, as well as excessive filler with draggy meditations upon nothing that I wasn't expecting. The film is ultimately aimless, having little to say and taking its sweet time to say it, and meandering so much that it sometimes really does feel like one of those questionably experimental slice-of-life art drama, complete with atmospheric dull spells. The film never loses its charm, but outside of that, there's very little kick, boasting a quiet dryness that exacerbates the sting of the slow spots, and sometimes incorporating too much atmospheric kick, to the point of overemphasizing themes in an unsubtle fashion (Christian themes; yes, that unsubtle) that is itself reflective of overambition. It seems that filmmaker Chad Hartigan wishes to carry this effort to height that it is simply too simple to achieve, and no matter how much Hartigan charms, uneven focus and pacing reflect shortcomings enough for the final product to be very much secured as underwhelming. Nevertheless, the effort endears, being too uneven and minimalist to be all that memorable, but still offering a good bit to enjoy, particularly on an aesthetic level.

I know of this film's score composer, Keegan DeWitt, who always seemed to have some kind of a classical knowledge to musicality, yet all but chocked it out with indie pop-rock sensibilities, so with this project for DeWitt, I feared cheesy moments a whole lot more than what I ended up with: one of 2013's better scores, whose unique marriage of modern classical sensibilities and an somewhat contemporaneous ambience crafts a warmly whimsical soundtrack that is not only beautiful, but complimentary to the intelligence and heart of this bright and charming drama. DeWitt turns in a relatively outstanding score that features a style and quality that are rare in films of this type, but outside of the score, there is nothing all that special about this effort, whose story is even simple, even if it is simple in a charming way. At least in concept, before Chad Hartigan applies his meandering directorial stamp, this narrative is simple, but endearing, with a very human heart that goes punctuated by genuine dramatic depth, often done justice by the very execution that taints storytelling with questionable sensibilities. Hartigan's meditative and often uneven approach to his short but, if you will, sweet tale is messy at times, but it too endears, even when it comes to a scripting stage which offers thoughtful characterization, anchored by realistically clever dialogue and lightly colorful set pieces, and sold by a directorial performance by Hartigan whose hearty atmosphere proves to be warm enough to challenge dullness with all of the charm I've been going on and on about, if not a hint of resonance. If nothing else, the film is, of course, thoroughly charming, yet there are times where it is more than that, say, a moving portrait on human depth that may often be betrayed by ambition (Yeah, yeah, Christian faith guiding one through life, I get it), but also uses its overt heart relatively effectively at times, or at least seems to when carried by its lead performances. There's not a whole lot for leads Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette to work with here, but they deliver enough to pump a lot of life into this character drama, bonding over electric chemistry, on either side of which is individual charisma which adds a lot to charm, while the occasional effective dramatic note anchors the moving moments. Even the onscreen driving forces for this film carry a lot of heart to keep things going, and while I do ultimately wish that the story concept matched the quality of the execution, however flawed it may be, the final product is nothing if not enjoyable, at least while it still hangs in your memory.

In closing, the simplicity of this story concept is made all the more glaring by an execution who unevenness in focus and pacing, - which is itself made all the more glaring by atmospheric dry spells - until you're left with a forgettable final product, but one that still endears, as there is still enough beauty and effectiveness to Keegan DeWitt's unique score, believability and heart to Chad Hartigan's writing and direction, and chemistry and charisma between Paul Eenhoorn's and Richmond Arquette's lead performances to make "This is Martin Bonner" an enjoyable and sometimes moving slice-of-life drama, even if it stand to have more weight.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
½ September 19, 2013
Cinematic understatement often comes with schmaltz and a handful of pretensions, but thankfully, 'This Is Martin Bonner' isn't another one of those sappy dramas that independent filmmaking is practically synonymous with. 'This Is Martin Bonner' moves at a slow pace, examining the growth of a friendship between the titular character and an ex-convict, and without the constraints of a narrative, it feels like real life. Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette are both quite wonderful in this somber debut from director Chad Hartigan, who understands that you don't necessarily need to tug at the heartstrings in order to deliver an inspirational message. He has crafted a low-key character study that doesn't amount to much in terms of entertainment, and it doesn't have much material to cover even its short running time, but it does offer a realistic portrayal of two guys stuck in a rut finding hope in one another. It really leaves you in a peaceful state.
November 29, 2013
The movie version of a leisurely conversation, one that you're actually in the mood for, with a mostly interesting stranger. Not memorable exactly, but wonderfully in the moment and confident in its modesty.
½ October 3, 2014
a slow boring nothing. i have no idea why i watched this. what a waste. theirs no reason to watch this, there's no substance.
July 5, 2014
This movie has great discussion potential. There are so many questions at the end about why certain things were put in and others left out, and others dropped after being introduced. One of the more realistic movies I've seen with a strong Christian voice in the film.
June 28, 2014
A thoughtful and quiet film that lingers long after its end.
April 16, 2014
2013 Sundance Film Festival[2] - Winner of the Audience Award: Best of NEXT [3]

2013 Oxford Film Festival[4]

2013 Florida Film Festival[5]

2013 Nashville Film Festival[6]

2013 Sarasota Film Festival - Winner of On Golden Pond Award for Artistic Accomplishment[7]

2013 Maryland Film Festival

2013 Wisconsin Film Festival [8]

2013 River Run Film Festival [9]
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2014
This unexpectedly excellent drama which will slowly draw you in, is written and directed by Chad Hartigan. The film stars Paul Eenhoorn as Martin Bonner, an Australian man in his late 50s forced to relocate to Reno, Nevada for a new job and his attempts to acclimate and make new friends. Through his work at a prison rehabilitation non-profit organization, he meets Travis Holloway (Richmond Arquette), and the two men form an unlikely friendship. The stories of Martin and Travis slowly converge, as the two men meet and find that they have much in common, not the least of which is an unspoken need for encouragement and support. Their unlikely friendship blossoms but is put to the test when Travis betrays Martin's trust in order to reunite with his estranged daughter.

This movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best of NEXT. If I have to ask myself why, there is so many things that could contribute to the answer... it was acted with smart restraint and shot with corresponding composure.. this sombre drama was built out of small moments of naturalistic behaviour which were acutely observed... the directing was unobtrusive and sophisticated... secular spirituality in its best! There is more, but even those are enough!

If you decide to watch this film you'll be surprised - there is no other option! You will witness uncommon tale of redemption that may leave you with an uncanny sense of peace. Not everything is conventional, and the imagistic approach to narrative will leave some bitter taste with some critics and viewers. It didn't for me, I liked it. (I am really glad that this was my 1100th review!)
January 25, 2014
Nice little slice of live movie that quitely sucks you in.....slow burn character driven gem.
January 3, 2014
This is Martin Bonner - drama film written and directed by Chad Hartigan. Starring Australian actor Paul Eenhoorn in the title role. Film received its premier at Sundance Film Festival and won Audience Award for Best of NEXT. Sean McElwee captures aesthetic photography of golden evens of Nevada.

Film opens with Bonner and his aide talking with soon-to-be-released prisoner, educating him what sort of good but simple jobs await for him, outside. Bonner is in mid 50s who has moved from East Coast leaving behind two decade building life and, his two adult kids to settle in Reno (Nevada). Bonner is divorced and works as co-ordinator for prisoners about to be released works as volunteer rehabilitator. He regularly keeps up with his children. He soon hooks up with new charge, that of middle-aged man (Richmond Arquette) who served 12 years for drunk-driving manslaughter. Bonner befriends Richmond immediately, the two spend quality time, each one expressing his personal indulgence. Bonner feels betrayed and heartbroken, when comes to learn that Richmond has called on his teenage daughter, with whom he wants to relocate.

Chad's direction brings us fast-paced entertainment. I barely could notice that an hour had passed, as I seemed to groove in to its catchable dialogues. Film carries religious tone (Christianity) as well. Paul Eenhoorn is owner of classy persona, it seems though that there is permanent smile on his face. He has got, this urge to be somebody that audience should not be willing to see disheartened. A tender-story about men who are somehow destined to face challenges of life; bitter they might look and yet we have to rise above these challenges.
½ January 13, 2014
The enjoyment ends all too soon. A poignant film, and it's starkness seems to liberate the viewer - there is no automatic conflict in the real world and it is the real world the former prisoner has to embrace - one step at a time, doing the right thing.
December 30, 2013
The best boring movie I've ever seen.
December 26, 2013
That restaurant scene...
December 13, 2013
A real treat. Hartigan builds a great atmosphere in his tale of escape from alienation, re-kindling with the outside world and human warmth. This is the story of Martin Bonner, an Australian born man who moved from the East Coast to the Nevada Desert for work, and his meeting with an ex-convict Travis as he tries to re-connect with the outside world and his estranged daughter. The film overflows with convincing humanity, whilst its unhurried pace and its lack of usual cinematic hyperbole makes it all more rewarding. In other words, This is Martin Bonner achieves exactly what it sets out to - it portrays hope but doesn't force an ending though perhaps it captures a beginning in the most compelling of ways. The simple beauty of the film is translated fully by the style of cinematography that recalls classic filmmaking by making use of old fashioned techniques such as zooms and 360 pans that not only rekindle cinema with some casually forgotten evocative feelings but also reveal a side of the US. This in turn leads to the construction of an atmosphere beautifully charged with nostalgia but also melancholia. A remarkable film of simple beauty.
December 1, 2013
Character development comes too slow and too late in this effort that shows much promise for everyone involved. CDW
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2013
Wait, hold on, this is Martin's what now? I'm sorry, that was kind of risky there, especially for me, that one jerk who makes sure that his reviews are squeaky clean, ostensibly for the young folks who will never, ever read these articles, but come on, don't tell me that you weren't thinking it. You probably weren't, because no one is talking about this film, which is so low profile that it co-stars an Arquette sibling. ...I don't necessarily need to emphasize which one it is, seeing as how the thought that any Arquette is getting attention is mind-blowing, so it's really adding insult to injury when I say that, of all of those, like, twenty kids, it's Richmond we're talking about... something that I'd imagine has rarely, if ever been said before. Well, if this film delivered no other piece of relieving information to me, it's that Richmond Arquette is still alive, and that Australians can, in fact, get old. I've gotten so used to Aussies being the young, hip part of the world, probably because AC/DC have yet to figure out that they're too old to be frolicking about in schoolboy outfits, but lo and behold, here's an older Aussie... I think. Yeah, Paul Eenhoorn is himself so forgotten that it's even difficult to find his age, which is a shame, because the man's pretty talented, as is Ri... um, Richm... Richmo... Ricky Arquette (I already forgot his name; that's it, right?), though that's not to say that either man is skilled enough to make you ignore the jokes in the main character's last name-I mean, the flaws in this film, or at least the story limitations.

First off, what really does a number on the bite of this drama is its simply being sort of simple, being a slice-of-life film that focuses on folks going about their business, dealing with conflicts that offer only so much unique meat, which isn't to say that this film doesn't, oddly enough, find some difficulty to its getting a grip on what focus it actually has. While this film's two sides of the story often meet, the leaps between the titular lead and the secondary Travis Holloway lead prove to be jarring at times, largely because the film has a tendency to spend too much time with either story. As if uneven focus isn't enough for you, the film also suffer from uneven pacing, running a startlingly short 83 minutes, and showing just how minimalist this subject matter is by still making time to feed excessive material with overlong dialogue sequences and expendable set piece, as well as excessive filler with draggy meditations upon nothing that I wasn't expecting. The film is ultimately aimless, having little to say and taking its sweet time to say it, and meandering so much that it sometimes really does feel like one of those questionably experimental slice-of-life art drama, complete with atmospheric dull spells. The film never loses its charm, but outside of that, there's very little kick, boasting a quiet dryness that exacerbates the sting of the slow spots, and sometimes incorporating too much atmospheric kick, to the point of overemphasizing themes in an unsubtle fashion (Christian themes; yes, that unsubtle) that is itself reflective of overambition. It seems that filmmaker Chad Hartigan wishes to carry this effort to height that it is simply too simple to achieve, and no matter how much Hartigan charms, uneven focus and pacing reflect shortcomings enough for the final product to be very much secured as underwhelming. Nevertheless, the effort endears, being too uneven and minimalist to be all that memorable, but still offering a good bit to enjoy, particularly on an aesthetic level.

I know of this film's score composer, Keegan DeWitt, who always seemed to have some kind of a classical knowledge to musicality, yet all but chocked it out with indie pop-rock sensibilities, so with this project for DeWitt, I feared cheesy moments a whole lot more than what I ended up with: one of 2013's better scores, whose unique marriage of modern classical sensibilities and an somewhat contemporaneous ambience crafts a warmly whimsical soundtrack that is not only beautiful, but complimentary to the intelligence and heart of this bright and charming drama. DeWitt turns in a relatively outstanding score that features a style and quality that are rare in films of this type, but outside of the score, there is nothing all that special about this effort, whose story is even simple, even if it is simple in a charming way. At least in concept, before Chad Hartigan applies his meandering directorial stamp, this narrative is simple, but endearing, with a very human heart that goes punctuated by genuine dramatic depth, often done justice by the very execution that taints storytelling with questionable sensibilities. Hartigan's meditative and often uneven approach to his short but, if you will, sweet tale is messy at times, but it too endears, even when it comes to a scripting stage which offers thoughtful characterization, anchored by realistically clever dialogue and lightly colorful set pieces, and sold by a directorial performance by Hartigan whose hearty atmosphere proves to be warm enough to challenge dullness with all of the charm I've been going on and on about, if not a hint of resonance. If nothing else, the film is, of course, thoroughly charming, yet there are times where it is more than that, say, a moving portrait on human depth that may often be betrayed by ambition (Yeah, yeah, Christian faith guiding one through life, I get it), but also uses its overt heart relatively effectively at times, or at least seems to when carried by its lead performances. There's not a whole lot for leads Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette to work with here, but they deliver enough to pump a lot of life into this character drama, bonding over electric chemistry, on either side of which is individual charisma which adds a lot to charm, while the occasional effective dramatic note anchors the moving moments. Even the onscreen driving forces for this film carry a lot of heart to keep things going, and while I do ultimately wish that the story concept matched the quality of the execution, however flawed it may be, the final product is nothing if not enjoyable, at least while it still hangs in your memory.

In closing, the simplicity of this story concept is made all the more glaring by an execution who unevenness in focus and pacing, - which is itself made all the more glaring by atmospheric dry spells - until you're left with a forgettable final product, but one that still endears, as there is still enough beauty and effectiveness to Keegan DeWitt's unique score, believability and heart to Chad Hartigan's writing and direction, and chemistry and charisma between Paul Eenhoorn's and Richmond Arquette's lead performances to make "This is Martin Bonner" an enjoyable and sometimes moving slice-of-life drama, even if it stand to have more weight.

2.5/5 - Fair
½ October 15, 2013
If you want spectacle and glitz this movie is not for you but if you want to observe a few human beings dealing with their banal, only life, filled with the little things that make it worth living, well, this is an excellent movie.
October 14, 2013
A simple, short narrative that moved me to tears. It slowly unwinds, and tucks at your heart string. Aging, fatherhood, hope, all in one.
Page 1 of 2