At a time when aficionados of film predict the demise of character-driven scripts in which subtlety and finesse take the place of CGI monsters and torture porn comes writer/director Chad Hartigan’s ode to new beginnings which could never be accused of being a slave to fashion.
Martin Bonner (Paul Eeuhoorn) has reached that age when the concept of retirement hangs over him like the threat of thunder.
After three years unemployed in Maryland, he accepts a job in Reno as a mentor to released prisoners.
The work has a strong Christian message which Martin consciously avoids as his faith took a hit a while back.
The film is neither preachy, nor sentimental. Martin’s client is a fortyish individual, called Travis (Richmond Arquette), who has just come out of jail after 12 years for manslaughter – a drink/drive fatality.
You learn about Martin’s children, his dutiful daughter and estranged artist son, and Travis’s daughter who comes to visit – not a success.
Martin is introspective, Australian and shy. When he was younger he played in a rock band, which is surprising for such a conventional middle-aged man. Travis suffers from being institutionalised and finds social intercourse difficult. His tentative steps into Reno’s suburban void proves more interesting than Martin’s experiment with speed dating.
The film feels like the preface to something that hasn’t started yet. For Martin, keeping an eye on Travis is better than sitting in a rented apartment watching daytime soaps. For Travis, having a new friend is better than having no friends.
If life is a box of chocolates, this is the marzipan one – bitter on the outside, sweet on the inside.