Sex, lies and literature. Deftly switching between love affairs eight years apart, this tale of postgrad passions and literary aspiration wittily translates an acclaimed Chilean novella into a gentle, funny movie.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
Sex, lies and literature: this tale of postgrad passions and literary aspiration translates Chilean Alejandro Zambra’s acclaimed novella into a nimble and highly amusing movie. Julio, approaching 30, regales his girlfriend with his novelisation of a love affair eight years earlier, all the while pretending the author is someone else much wiser and more famous. Deftly switching between then and now, Bonsái adopts Julio’s narrative style – self-conscious and spare, witty and blue – but it doesn’t entirely buy his point of view. It’s an affectionately knowing picture of arty 20-somethings beset by visions of bigger stages and mightier passions. As Julio’s original affair begins with his professing to have read Remembrance of Things Past then frantically attempting to do so, we know at once that this film is wryly alert to the uses of fiction. Cristián Jiménez’s movie nails its milieu and translates meta-literary playfulness most adroitly. — BG