Bonanza (2 stars)


A documentary examining small town mentality in America that unfortunately loses momentum

Antwerp multi-media company Berlin's documentary focuses on the town of Bonanza, America, a once thriving, seedy place populated by miners, prostitutes and hard drinkers, now reduced to just seven permanent residents. Yet even here, the folks just can't seem to rub along and rumours of murder and betrayal hang in the sweet mountain air.

In spite of the somewhat eccentric and questionable nature of some of the people, Bonanza never judges. Some of them, like Mary, who is derided as a witch who likes to urinate in public, seem misunderstood. Others talk of purple lights and angels and 'going into the forest to do my thing', conjuring images of a human skin suit hanging in the wardrobe .

Despite this, the film loses momentum halfway through, the apparent denouement that 'people in small towns gossip, through nothing better to do’ is hardly a shocker. In the hands of say, Wim Wenders, a more interesting portrait would have been created. Ultimately, even with a cute scale model of the town which lights up and five different angled screens, Bonanza feels as flat as the landscape is mountainous.

Summerhall, 0845 874 3001 Until Aug 25th (not 12,19), £12 (£10)


  • 2 stars

Cinematic portrait of a desolate mining town, the smallest in Colorado, USA. A microcosm of the world, the residents claim. In Bonanza there were once 6000 inhabitants catered for by 36 saloons, seven dance halls and an immense number of prostitutes for the miners. Their motto was: get in, get rich, get out. Now there are…