If there was ever a bromance in which the slightest hint of homosexuality never came up, this would be the one.
Martin Bonner (Paul Eenhoorn) is a simple and care-free Aussie living in Nevada, where he works as the coordinator of a prison rehabilitation program. Martin obviously feels some guilt about leaving his wife and two children back home in Maryland for this job, but it was his first one in two years after he lost his last one as a businessman for a church, so he took what he could get. Eventually, Martin begins to find himself a bit lonely and only passes the time by going to various antique acts, so it is rather lame at first. However, one day, he picks up a guy named Travis (Richmond Arquette), an ex-con who is just finishing up his 12-year sentence and literally has no idea of where to go with his life and how to pick up the shambles he left all over the place when he got in the clink. The two somewhat hit it off and eventually begin to hang-out with one another, help each other out in ways and take care of each other’s own respective loneliness, despite still being highly unlikely as besties. But life will surprise you sometimes, and these two are about to find that out.
Here’s a little movie that not anybody knew a single thing about last year, but somehow, through its various festival-runs and stint on Netflix, has been finding some much-deserved, newfound life, which is a blessing for small flicks like these. They may not get as much attention as they deserve, but once word-of-mouth spreads, eventually everybody will flock to see what all of the fuss is about, and that’s exactly what I did. I heard it was good, heard it was sweet, small and better yet, a total of 83 minutes. Now I don’t know about you guys or anything, but if any of the movies out there that I watch can be under an-hour-and-a-half, then I’d be much more happier camper.
However, all that aside, the fact remains that a small movie like deserves all sort of recognition and praise because it may be small in scope, but what the movie itself is dealing with and talking about, is much larger and can resonate with possibly anybody. This is a movie about two people who you wouldn’t see walking side-by-side down the sidewalk together, let alone getting a cup of Joe in the a.m. together, however, they somehow find a way to connect to the other’s loneliness that made me ponder all of the times I’ve ever found myself to be a bit out of my element in certain places. Can’t say that there are too many on the top of my head, but there have been plenty of moments in my life, and I’m sure in all of your’s, in which you just felt like you needed a pal to hang-out with, talk to, connect with and just build a friendship with.
There’s nothing more human than that, and that’s exactly what this movie taps into. However, it doesn’t do so in a way that’s as big, preachy or manipulative that you would normally see in a big mainstream flick. Even the prospect of Christianity making certain characters feel better about themselves and affecting their lives for the good, isn’t touched-on in a way that it’s looked down-upon. Sure, the discussion of believing in an actual God, that may or may not be, pops-up every so often, but it isn’t used as a crutch to show how these characters connect or get by in the world; nor does the flick itself really poke a finger at those who do firmly believe in the whole mighty savior. The movie just shows that maybe what’s good for them, is fine as is. It may not be fine for everybody out there in the world, but for others, its fine.
But the movie doesn’t do much talking about the whole idea of religion all that much to begin with. Instead, it just focuses on the building-friendship between these two really random guys that may not have much chemistry together or even a lot in common, but are simply there for the other and let it known that if there is a problem, that the other will be there for them, as soon as possible. It’s rather sweet to watch, actually, but it never taps into these over-homoerotic emotions that you would see any lesser-flick go for. These are both, clearly straight, adult, grown-up men who know who they are, what they want and where they stand in the world, they just need a buddy. That’s all there is to it, and it’s quite a beautiful thing to watch.
It may also go to show you that it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much of life you think has passed you by, you can still start anew, continue to grow, experience new things and make other people’s lives better, as well as your own.
Though, I must say, what really pushes this budding-friendship between these two, highly unlikely candidates, is the performances from both Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette, two guys I have rarely ever seen before, but I think may have a bright and solid future ahead of themselves if enough chatter about this movie gets out to the right people. The one I really hope gets the most attention from this is Eenhoorn who really surprised the hell out of me with his wise, old cracker character that didn’t feel like a condescending prick in the least bit. In fact, I’d say that for whatever his old age may have been, the guy still had it going on; there’s even a nice a scene in which he gets down and starts dancing for a straight two minutes in which we see that this is just an old man with age, but not old at heart. Not to discredit Arquette at all, but when it comes down to these two, Eenhoorn’s the one that I want to see more of and I think, with the right roles coming his way, could really do something spectacular. However, we’ll just have to wait and see and what happens next.
Consensus: Short, small and rather abrupt, This Is Martin Bonner may not take up most of your day, but it’s definitely worth a look if you’re looking for the type of subtle-indie that doesn’t challenge us too much, rather it just asks us to pay attention to these characters, their nuances, complexities and what it is that makes them worth watching, if any exuberant features at all.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!