This is Martin Bonner settles into its simplicity with charm and ease, with some tender lead performances and an easygoing approach. Yet I never found myself wholly engaged in the work. There are meditative directing choices by Hartigan, and scenes play out in a prolonged, patient manner, both of which I find highly commendable. The film centers on Martin Bonner (Paul Eenhoorn), a Christian man who used to live on the East Coast but has moved to Reno, Nevada after a divorce and loss of his job. He has two children, both in their twenties with their own concerns: his daughter has a child, and he talks with her often, but his son is an artist who is “very busy,” as we’re reminded. There’s a pleasant approach to Martin that brings a sadness to some of his actions; this is a man plagued by loneliness who hopes to help others find the meaning they need in life. One of those is Travis (Richmond Arquette), a man who committed manslaughter but hopes to right himself. There’s a telling scene where he gives in to a vice that isn’t alcohol, which caused the accident, and helps him change. I like these characters and the approach, but the whole work doesn’t come across as focused by its conclusion. It leaves a pleasantly empty feeling.
Grade: ★★★ (out of 5)