The Quitter‘s low-key approach to its well-trodden redemption arc — an ex-ballplayer (Matthew Bonifacio) turns his life around by reuniting with his ex-girlfriend (Julianna Gelinas Bonifacio) and reconnecting with the daughter (Destiny Monet Cruz) he abandoned seven years ago — might seem like a welcome strategy.
But screenwriter Bill Gullo (working in a much different register than his sci-fi indie +1) and director-producer-star Bonifacio (Lbs., Amexicano) hedge their bets so far that the resultant movie is less pleasantly relaxed than it is simply lacking in drama. Many of the narrative details — Jonathan’s (Bonifacio) failed career on the diamond; the specifics of why he left Georgie (Gelinas Bonifacio) alone with their child — remain so vague that it’s surprising to learn how personal the material is: Bonifacio and Gelinas Bonifacio are now married in real life, and Bonifacio himself was a former captain of the CUNY baseball team.
Perhaps it’s this familiarity that prevents The Quitter from ever becoming genuinely vulnerable: From the moment Jonathan runs into Georgie and his girl on Coney Island, Bonifacio makes little effort to present him as a flawed human being.
Rather, he’s just a nice guy who made a bad mistake once; and, as The Quitter progresses, Jonathan merely grows nicer and nicer, rendering the character’s obligatory, runtime-padding third-act doubts false and unconvincing. The movie is partly saved by Bonifacio and DP Timothy Nuttall’s regular use of patient long shots, as well as their capable grasp of widescreen composition: In a dinner scene between Jonathan, Georgie, and their daughter, the tall glass of red wine that Bonifacio sticks in the extreme foreground of the frame conveys the anxiety of the situation more effectively than the scene surrounding it.