Bonnie 2022 Movie Review
February 7, 2023

Bonnie 2022 Movie Review

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Bonnie 2022 Movie Review

While she may not be a household name compared to the directors that she has worked for, Bonnie Timmermann’s IMDb reads as a decade-spanning watch list of some of the best films ever made. The legendary casting director behind “The Karate Kid,” “Manhunter,” “Bull Durham,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Armageddon,” and about a hundred other films that you’ve seen gets an earnest, if not exactly insightful, documentary about her work in Simon Wallon’s fawning “Bonnie.”

Using direct interviews with Timmermann, as well as friends and colleagues, and never-before-seen audition tapes, “Bonnie” is perhaps more interesting for what it reveals about the audition process than anything about Bonnie herself — who oddly remains a cipher despite the film being ostensibly about her.

Instead, we are given vague platitudes of Timmermann’s approach to casting, which often used a combination of disarming conversations and combative energy to reveal how an actor would react to a given script or director’s temperament. Timmermann describes herself as both an “explorer” and as someone who “arranges marriages” between the director and actor.

The film mainly follows Timmermann’s career chronologically as she reflects on her early days in the New York theater world before being hired by Michael Mann to cast for “Miami Vice” in the ‘80s. There, she found massive success casting a series of unknowns in guest star roles, including Julia Roberts, Chris Rock, Bruce Willis, Ben Stiller, Steve Buscemi, Chris Cooper, Benecio Del Toro, and almost every other famous actor of the ‘90s and ‘00s.

Her work with Mann, Michael Bay, Tony and Ridley Scott, and Derek Cianfrance, is given the most coverage, as Timmerman is described by various actors as someone who worked well with traditionally ‘masculine’ directors, offsetting their energy. And there are many actors who speak in this documentary, as Wallon gives plenty of time to Del Toro, Laurence Fishburne, Mary Louise Parker, Liam Neeson, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie O’Donnell, Laura Linney, Sigourney Weaver, etc., to speak about their experiences with Timmermann.

Most, Mark Ruffalo especially, have only compliments. Though the most fascinating bits of the doc are when actors push back against Timmerman’s personal probing. Viggo Mortensen refuses to answer her questions, Zack Galifianakis looks visibly uncomfortable, and Vincent Gallo does, well, the type of things that you’d expect from him.

These audition tapes are really the reason to recommend “Bonnie,” as it’s consistently fascinating to see Ruffalo read for the William Fincher part in “Armageddon” or Kate Winslet for Natalie Portman’s role in “Heat.” Wondering about the various permutations and what-ifs, that make up each film in Timmermann’s oeuvre gives one the sense of what her job actually is — constructing a puzzle without exactly knowing the shape of each piece.

Her preternatural ability to spot up-and-coming talent is something that could’ve been explored more, as it is often reduced to montages of the various actors she discovered. As for Timmermann, she’s elusive. We end up knowing little about her personal life (save for the fact that she dated Leonard Cohen, leading to a guest-star spot on “Miami Vice”).

Timmermann has had the type of career that can, and should, culminate with the type of career-spanning documentary that “Bonnie” aspires to. One only wishes that it was more focused on unpacking the woman behind these casting videos instead of playing the greatest hits. Still, though, Wallon’s documentary has enough behind-the-scenes material that, for the movie obsessed, there’s enough to elicit some interest.

Bonnie 2022 Movie Review