List Film

Bonsai (3 stars)

A likeable drama about past love and missed opportunities

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Bonsai

(15) 95min

There’s much to like in this gentle drama about young love and missed opportunities but Chilean feature Bonsái feels a little too familiar to make a lasting impact.

Julio (Diego Noguera) is an aspiring writer, working in a bookshop by day and entertaining a lacklustre fling with his neighbour, Blanca (Trinidad Gonzales), at night. Unable to shake off the memories of his first girlfriend, Emilia (Nathalia Galgani), he sets about writing down the story of their relationship. He pretends to Blanca that these handwritten notebooks are in fact the latest novel of famous author Gazmuri (Hugo Medina) which Julio is helping to transcribe. Over the course of the film the two read through the books together, whilst the story of Julio’s first love unfolds.

With such a plot it’s unsurprising to find Bonsái is filled with literary references, a romanticism for books and ideas of life imitating art. And indeed it is this which gives the film its charm, coupled with attractive cinematography shot in warm colours and neat, often comedic, composition. Yet with its air of melancholy and musings on failed romances Bonsái treads well worn ground and never quite raises its head above the many other independent films that have embraced similar subject matter.

Selected release from Fri 30 Mar.

Bonsai

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • Chile/Argentina/Portugal/France
  • 95 min
  • Directed by: Cristián Jiménez
  • Cast: Gabriela Arancibia, Cristóbal Briceño, Julio Carrasco
  • UK release: 30 March 2012

Julio (Noguera), an aspiring writer, pretends to his neighbour Blanca (Gonzales) that his written account of his first love affair is really a transcription of a novel-in-progress by famous writer Gazmuri (Medina). There's much to like about this melancholy Chilean drama, but it feels too familiar to make a lasting impact.

Elsewhere on the web

Festival 2011: BONSAI trailer

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