This Is Martin Bonner
by Phil Boatwright

Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette. Written & directed by Chad Hartigan. 83 min.

FILM SYNOPSIS: New on DVD via Christian Book Distributors and others, this absorbing drama concerns a newly released prison inmate searching for peace and purpose, and his social worker who after a time of misplaced faith is also finding his way back.

In this Sundance Award-Winning film, two men each search in their quiet solitude to begin a new life amidst an unspoken need for encouragement and support. Martin Bonner has just moved to Reno from the East Coast, leaving behind his two adult children and a life he spent more than two decades building. Having recently declared bankruptcy, he’s working a new job as a volunteer helping prisoners transition to freedom. It’s Martin’s first job in two years. Travis Holloway, a recently released prisoner in the program, sent back into the world with nothing, also finds life difficult to adjust to. The lives and stories of Martin and Travis begin to converge as they find that they have much in common. Their unlikely friendship blossoms but is put to the test when Travis betrays Martin's trust.

PREVIEW REVIEW: What a surprise; this is one of the best films I’ve seen that includes a spiritual message. The story, dialogue, and performances by the two male leads are simply outstanding. For that matter, so are the technical aspects, including a score that avoids the syrupy trappings of most films made to witness to the world. Here the music, used infrequently, backs the story and adds dimension to the conversations – you know, like what a film score is supposed to do.

The film doesn’t beat you over the head with a message, but it does remind us of our need to live a life that points to the saving power of Jesus Christ. This is Martin Bonner is personal, poignant, honest and touching. Truly one of the best films of the year. The reviewer for the Boston Globe called it “An unassuming gem.” That’s exactly what it is.

Not yet rated, I understand it has been edited to eliminate objectionable content. There is a brief scene where the newly released convict meets a prostitute and takes her back to his room, but nothing of a sexual nature is seen. While the scene is there to reveal the nature of a man who has been imprisoned for years, it is not exploitive. Later we see this man searching for spiritual satisfaction. I found nothing offensive in this edited version.