Travis (Richmond Arquette) just got out of prison, and Martin (Paul Eenhoorn) just got into one – volunteering, at least. As the new volunteer coordinator for a prison rehabilitation program, which helps just-released prisoners adjust to the outside world, Martin meets Travis, who soon seeks Martin out more than his assigned program mentor.
Both men are looking for a new life purpose in this quiet film by writer/director Chad Hartigan. Who says a film has to have explosions or expensive set pieces to be impressionable? This is Martin Bonner will show you that two wonderfully written characters and a strong central conflict (internal as well as with one another) can be just as powerful a storytelling vehicle.
While Martin spends much time alone at his apartment, reading or dancing to records, Travis does, too, at his interim home, a stale motel room. Martin makes calls to his living-elsewhere daughter (whom we never see, though she feels real), who is worried about her father being too isolated, whereas Martin’s son never takes his phone calls. Aside from Martin, Travis has no one to call aside from his daughter, whom he has not seen for twelve years, before he was put away, and hopes to reconnect with her.
Martin, who could be Travis’ father, age-wise, wants to help Travis acclimate to his new life, yet Martin is also a bit trepidatious doing so and remains a few feet back. In the meantime, he tries to adjust to life as a newcomer in Reno, Nevada – coaching soccer and attending a Speed Dating event his daughter arranges for him. Despite how likeable Martin is, loneliness still pervades – until he and Travis start spending more time together. Gradually, Martin forms a father-son connection with Travis, who becomes more and more inspired by Martin. At one point, Travis tells Martin that by seeing better people out there, he, too, can be better. In turn, Martin is reinvigorated to become closer to his own son again.
The film’s primary theme is loneliness – both men feel at a loss: Martin having just moved to Reno for a new job, and Travis not knowing how to bide his time now that he has so much of it. Yet the movie is also about hope – that both men will end up okay. They will survive. And Keegan DeWitt’s beautiful music composition helps accentuate the story more so.
This is Martin Bonneris a lovely, touching film that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt alone.
An interesting anecdote for aspiring filmmakers: part of this film was funded by Kickstarter. Check it out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chadhartigan/this-is-martin-bonner-a-feature-film. So don’t give up!