Saturday, September 01, 2012

"Bonsai": new film from Chile about the layered life of a young writer

The cover art of “Bonsai”, the new film from Cristan Jiminez (Chile), gives a clue as to the visual problems that this layered film will have with slightly different time periods in the life of its writer-protagonist, Julio (Diego Noguera). It shows a 2D picture of a bonsai plant projected against the teen chest of the character.
The metaphor of plantings contained in a tray, as an encapsulation of real life, may seem elusive. Maybe a model railroad would make a suitable comparison.

Early in the film, we see Julio, still a youth, sleeping on the beach, his chest partly protected from sunburn by a hardcover book of Proust.  The time frame is still ambiguous, as is his love life.

Then we get the setup.  Julio, maybe around 28 or so, is struggling to get his commercial bearings as a writer.  (Any allusion to Ruby Sparks (July 30) is coincidental.)  He has a casually intimate relationship with a  female neighbor Barbara (Gabriella Arancibia). He interviews for a job transcribing a work from an “establishment” author (who briefly lectures him about the jobs of cursive penmanship, without the computer). That fails, but he pretends to Barbara that he has the job, and actually he writes his own “novel”, an autobiographical extension of his tragic relationship with Emilia (Natalia Galgani) eight years before.

One obvious question: why is a job “transcribing” someone else’s work more valid that writing one’s own original opus?   

But what gets interesting is the way the film presents the time change, just enough to make a difference.  Not only does Julio have a beard in most scenes in the “current day” scenes, his chest and arm hair are thicker; I don’t know how makeup did this. He wouldn’t have needed to look “immature” at age 20. (The shaving cream in the cover art seems to fit into some metaphor.)  

Curiously, then, while all the sex is heterosexual, this is definitely a "male" film.  

I reviewed this from a screener DVD  (released Aug. 21) supplied by Strand, official site

There’s a tagline, “A story of books, love, and blah…”. 

Second picture:  A bookish existence?  (Washington DC window display).

I just noticed that the letters of "Bonsai" permute to "Bosnia".  Maybe a trivia question on "Millionaire"?

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