'The Quitter': Film Review
Matthew Bonifacio stars in his drama about a man attempting to become a father to the daughter he abandoned
Sometimes a drama can be too retrained for its own good. Such is the case with actor/filmmaker Matthew Bonifacio’s follow-up to his acclaimed indie films Lbs. and Amexicano. Relating the story of a failed baseball player’s efforts to reconnect with his former girlfriend and the daughter he abandoned before she was born, The Quitter admirably refrains from overblown melodramatics. But its resolutely low-key approach doesn’t make for particularly compelling drama.
Bonifacio plays the central role of Jonathan, who gave up on his promising baseball career years earlier for reasons that go frustratingly unexplained. He also walked away from Georgie (Gelinas Bonifacio, the director’s real-life wife) and his unborn daughter Luka (Destiny Monet Cruz), with only a sonogram picture to remember the latter by. Now the owner of a baseball batting cage establishment in Brooklyn, Jonathan finds his life turned upside down when he encounters his ex after she’s moved back to the old neighborhood.
Determined to become a real father to his daughter, Jonathan is initially rebuffed by the embittered Georgie. But his dogged determination and heartfelt assurances that he’s changed his ways slowly melt down her defenses, although she at first refuses to reveal his true identity to the little girl.
With the plot pretty much proceeding as you’d imagine, the film never goes anywhere interesting, with Bill Gullo’s (+ 1) screenplay providing scant insight into the main character’s past and present behavior and Bonifacio’s largely inexpressive performance failing to fill in the blanks. Ironically, the film is far more effective when it comes to Georgie who, as engagingly played by the distaff Bonifacio, emerges as a complex and appealing character with an intriguing backstory of her own. Also excellent are the adorable child actress Cruz, delivering an admirably naturalistic turn; Deirdre O’Connell, investing moving emotion into her turn as Jonathan’s loving mother; and Erin Darke, amusing as a quirky neighbor. Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black) also shows up for a cameo as Georgie’s ballet instructor friend.
The film certainly looks good, with Timothy Nuttall’s handsome widescreen lensing taking advantage of the little-seen Brooklyn locations and the carefully composed compositions uncommonly artful for a low-budget indie. But despite its admirable elements, The Quitter, like its titular character, seems to give up before it ever gets going.
Production: Goodface Films, Howling Wolf Productions
Cast: Matthew Bonifacio, Julianna Gelinas Bonifacio, Destiny Money Cruz, Neil Jain, Deirdre O’Connell, Dan Gramaldi
Director: Matthew Bonifacio
Screenwriter: Bill Gullo
Producers: Julianna Gelinas Bonifacio, Neil Jain, Matthew Bonifacio
Director of photography: Timonty Nuttall
Editor: Avi Edelman
Composer: David Cieri
No rating, 86 min.