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

E-Team
Film Review: E-Team

Four international human rights investigators descend on political atrocities to determine accountability. More »

Laggies
Film Review: Laggies

Disappointing comedic entry about a late-20s slacker who won’t grow up is writer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first outing directing someone else’s material. Points here for strong cast and an occasional chuckle, but otherwise there’s just no point. More »

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. 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