[THIS IS MARTIN BONNER screens Wednesday January 15th at 7:00 pm at the Cleveland Museum of Art.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
THIS IS MARTIN BONNER follows its titular character (Paul Eenhorn) as he starts a new job helping prisoners readjust to society when their sentences are up. Martin is doing a good bit of readjusting himself. Recently divorced, he lost his job as business manager for a church after going through a crisis of faith. He's had to file bankruptcy, and eventually had to move from Maryland to Reno, Nevada for his current job after two years of fruitless searching.
Martin's first client is Travis (Richmond Arquette), who hopes to get his life back on track and reconnect with his daughter after serving a 12 year sentence. Although Martin is merely supposed to drop Travis off with his assigned mentor, the devoutly religious Steve (Robert Longstreet), something clicks in the short time the two ride together. When Travis needs advice on some personal matters, he feels more comfortable talking to Martin. The two men slowly start to form a genuine friendship, sensing in each other kindred spirits. However, an act of deception by Travis threatens to undermine that friendship.
Writer/director Chad Hartigan may be telling a fairly simple story, but he and his cinematographer Sean McElwee make sure it remains visually interesting throughout. When it's not focused on the weathered countenances of its two leads, McElwee's camera captures nice little details of a Reno that looks very much lived in.The film ends a bit abruptly without resolving every issue in its protagonists' lives, but that feels about right.