Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Vito Bonafacci

Midlife crisis prompts a building contractor to question his religious beliefs in this slow moving, faith-based drama.

May 5, 2011

-By Daniel Eagan


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1242878-Vito_Bonavacci_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Good intentions can't salvage Vito Bonafacci, a slow-paced drama about a doubter's religious reawakening. Obviously a labor of love for producer, writer and director John Martoccia, the film is receiving a theatrical release in New York before opening elsewhere. But its real market will be church groups already tuned in to the story's issues of faith.

Building contractor Vito Bonafacci (Paul Borghese) appears to be living the good life in a luxurious mansion on a hill. But when he dreams that his deceased mother (Emilese Aleandri) has sentenced him to Hell, he starts to suffer panic attacks.

Vito turns to those around him for help, asking Marie (Carin Mei), his maid, Ralph (Ralph Squillace), his barber, and Vinnie (Louis Vanaria), his gardener, what they believe about the afterlife. Vito also remembers turning points in his past: a grandfather (Ercole Ventura) who taught him about eternity; Sister Grace (Maria Cofano), who showed him how to pray the rosary; and Father LaGolbo (William DeMeo), who warned him to "live each day like it was your last."

Convinced that he will have a fatal heart attack if he leaves his grounds, Vito sends for Father Richard Dellos (played by himself). In Vito's living room, the two grapple over issues of faith and what it means to be a Catholic.

Vito Bonafacci is more a polemic than a feature narrative. The film proceeds from one debate about faith to another, its characters delivering talking points rather than engaging in conversation. Unfortunately, the screenplay fails to lay out its arguments clearly, or explain its flashback structure to viewers.

As a director, John Martoccia sketches believable characters with quick strokes, and builds strong emotions from small gestures and moments. But overall, Vito Bonafacci lacks focus. Long scenes detailing cooking, eating or just sitting don't lead anywhere. The film fails to build narrative momentum, and seems to be taking place in a hermetically sealed environment that has nothing to do with the real world. While the cinematography by Patrick Wells is accomplished, the pacing is extremely slow. Joseph Prusch's score, a mix of classical and religious themes, feels intrusive at times, as if trying to inject drama into scenes that have none.

These technical issues probably won't make much difference to the film's target audience of churchgoers who want to see their beliefs confirmed on film. But Vito Bonafacci lacks the intellectual depth and narrative realism needed to engage more skeptical viewers. Also troubling is the script's insistence on an extremely conservative form of Catholicism, one that espouses plenary indulgences as a way to pay off "temporal debt."


Film Review: Vito Bonafacci

Midlife crisis prompts a building contractor to question his religious beliefs in this slow moving, faith-based drama.

May 5, 2011

-By Daniel Eagan


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1242878-Vito_Bonavacci_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Good intentions can't salvage Vito Bonafacci, a slow-paced drama about a doubter's religious reawakening. Obviously a labor of love for producer, writer and director John Martoccia, the film is receiving a theatrical release in New York before opening elsewhere. But its real market will be church groups already tuned in to the story's issues of faith.

Building contractor Vito Bonafacci (Paul Borghese) appears to be living the good life in a luxurious mansion on a hill. But when he dreams that his deceased mother (Emilese Aleandri) has sentenced him to Hell, he starts to suffer panic attacks.

Vito turns to those around him for help, asking Marie (Carin Mei), his maid, Ralph (Ralph Squillace), his barber, and Vinnie (Louis Vanaria), his gardener, what they believe about the afterlife. Vito also remembers turning points in his past: a grandfather (Ercole Ventura) who taught him about eternity; Sister Grace (Maria Cofano), who showed him how to pray the rosary; and Father LaGolbo (William DeMeo), who warned him to "live each day like it was your last."

Convinced that he will have a fatal heart attack if he leaves his grounds, Vito sends for Father Richard Dellos (played by himself). In Vito's living room, the two grapple over issues of faith and what it means to be a Catholic.

Vito Bonafacci is more a polemic than a feature narrative. The film proceeds from one debate about faith to another, its characters delivering talking points rather than engaging in conversation. Unfortunately, the screenplay fails to lay out its arguments clearly, or explain its flashback structure to viewers.

As a director, John Martoccia sketches believable characters with quick strokes, and builds strong emotions from small gestures and moments. But overall, Vito Bonafacci lacks focus. Long scenes detailing cooking, eating or just sitting don't lead anywhere. The film fails to build narrative momentum, and seems to be taking place in a hermetically sealed environment that has nothing to do with the real world. While the cinematography by Patrick Wells is accomplished, the pacing is extremely slow. Joseph Prusch's score, a mix of classical and religious themes, feels intrusive at times, as if trying to inject drama into scenes that have none.

These technical issues probably won't make much difference to the film's target audience of churchgoers who want to see their beliefs confirmed on film. But Vito Bonafacci lacks the intellectual depth and narrative realism needed to engage more skeptical viewers. Also troubling is the script's insistence on an extremely conservative form of Catholicism, one that espouses plenary indulgences as a way to pay off "temporal debt."
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

BBoy for Life
Film Review: BBoy for Life

The dancing is familiar but the stakes are higher in this moving documentary set in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world. More »

Manakamana
Film Review: Manakamana

An observational documentary in which the camera captures the passengers of a cable-car cabin in Nepal. More »

Visions of Mary Frank
Film Review: Visions of Mary Frank

Deeply loving, if too slight, documentary about one of the great beauties of the New York art world, who always forged her own path. More »

The Jewish Cardinal
Film Review: The Jewish Cardinal

Informative, absorbing, but as obvious as its title and a bit too glib for its own good, this French import will appeal mainly to religious addicts fascinated by the feverishly agenda-ridden internal workings of the Catholic Church. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Rio 2
Film Review: Rio 2

Busy sequel to the popular animated feature follows the original's blue macaws on a journey from Rio de Janeiro to an endangered rainforest. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here