Elmer J. Howard's Loving Martin is based upon a true story, though we're told very little about that story other than what unfolds in this 21-minute short film that centers around two men - Erik (Scott Olson) and Martin (Allen Montes), an obviously in love couple who are at different places in life and circumstance yet, despite it all, display the kind of warmth and affection for one another that makes you believe in their love.
Erik is an older man, middle-aged with an established career and a desire to settle down in both life and love.
Martin, on the other hand, is a younger man. He's less settled, more willing to push boundaries and gives us hints of having lived a life where testing those who love him is part of what one must endure to love him. Still, he loves.
Loving Martin opens beautifully, lensing by Brett Bays drawing us into what we're initially assuming will be a tale of conflicted love yet relative bliss. Francis Snyder's invites us into comfort, quietly pulling back the curtain toward lives that aren't quite as idyllic as we'd hoped they would be.
While Loving Martin is a relatively melancholy affair, it's rather surprisingly never a depressing one. This is a film that unfolds loving, tenderly and with tremendous respect and admiration for its subject matter that slowly, yet never fully, reveals itself. The only intrusion into their world cinematically comes from Jeanine (Rhayne Thomas), Erik's friend whose appearances are immensely welcome as they further the story and give the film a welcome spark and energy.
The cast of Loving Martin is uniformly fine, though there's little question that Rhayne Thomas's appearances steal what is essentially a two-man show. The strength here, however, lies in the story itself and the way that Howard works from David Vernon's script to tell a story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. While somber, Loving Martin is ultimately a hopeful and life-affirming effort that serves as a fine tribute and cinematic dedication.