A young writer recounts an earlier romance in hopes of attracting his new love interest.
The fates of Julio (Diego Noguera) and Emilia (Nathalia Galgani) are sealed from the start, as the viewer is informed that at the end of the film, Emilia dies and Julio remains alive and alone, which he had been years before Emilia's death. This is leavened by a gently applied flashback-flashforward structure, which jumps between Julio's college years in the provincial coastal city of Valdivia and his adult life eight years later when he's still struggling to become a novelist in Santiago.
Carefully interwoven into ‘Bonsái’s’ narrative is also a quote from Proust’s novel ‘In Remembrance of Things Past’ in which the protagonist falls asleep and wakes up only to find he has become a character in his own story. With this as a backdrop, everything that happens to Julio is called into question. We’re left wondering throughout the film how much of Julio’s actions create his life or how much of his life is being moulded to fit the story. Based on the novel by Alejandro Zambra, at turns dark and tender, ‘Bonsái’ adroitly manoeuvres between nostalgia for the piquant moments of a first sexual encounter and the lonely ordinariness of adulthood. (Subtitles)
Chile · Argentina · Portugal · 2011 · Cristián Jiménez · 92min