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Unlikely Friends

'This is Martin Bonner' is quietly captivating

September 10, 2013, 12:00 am

So this is Martin Bonner (Paul Eenhoorn), a quiet, unassuming Australian immigrant who’s been living in the U.S. for decades. In the movie that bears his name, he’s recently transplanted to Reno, Nev., for his first real job in three years.

And this is Travis Holloway (Richmond Arquette), a convict just released from prison after 12 years, who’s trying to put his life back together. Travis and Martin become unlikely friends, meeting over coffee or breakfast, and talking about the ins and outs of what led them to their present situations.

Writer-director Chad Hartigan’s Sundance favorite is the right kind of independent drama: quiet, contemplative and largely plotless, even if it follows a narrative line. Its effectiveness is aided immeasurably by subtle performances from Eenhoorn and Arquette, even when they’re spouting dialogue that no human being would actually say. 

Hartigan and cinematographer Sean McElwee capture the late fall desolation of Reno that makes the characters’ lives seem even heavier. Some of the editing and sound design work is clunky, but Arquette’s sad face will bring you back into the moment every time he’s on screen. This is Martin Bonner isn’t perfect, but it’s a fine meditation on friendship and loneliness.


Written and directed by Chad Hartigan

With Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette and Sam Buchanan

The Screen

83 min.


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