Archives / 2013 Sundance Film Festival

This Is Martin Bonner

Film Still

Director: Chad Hartigan

Screenwriters: Chad Hartigan

Institute History

  • 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Description

Chad Hartigan’s moving second feature has an air of simplicity but proves a subtle meditation on friendship, faith, and human connection.

In his fifties, Martin Bonner leaves his old life behind and relocates to Reno, where he finds work for a church-based program that helps released prisoners transition to life on the outside. Divorced with two adult children, he tries speed dating and passes time as a soccer referee on weekends. Meanwhile Travis Holloway has just been released from a 12-year prison stint. His program mentor, Steve, is charitable and helps him adjust, but Travis finds Steve’s Christian devotion uncomfortable and reaches out to Martin instead. The two men form an unlikely friendship that offers them unspoken support and understanding.

In this quietly observational film, Hartigan affects naturalism but hints at unnerving disquietude as both Martin and Travis struggle in an unfamiliar place—looking for a second chance at life. The storytelling is intimate, witty, and personal, while Paul Eenhoorn (as Martin) and Richmond Arquette (as Travis) offer standout performances, approaching their characters with a low-key restraint that evokes the awkwardness of starting life afresh, well into middle age.


(Archives note: see also Chad Hartigan's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— J. N.

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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