“BONSAI”— A Romantic Comedy

“Bonsai”
A Romantic Comedy

Amos Lassen

“Bonsai is the story of Julio, a young writer whose life has stalled. He does not have a job and is having something of an affair with his neighbor. When he gets an interview with a famed author for a job transcribing his book, Julio things that maybe things will get better but he didn’t get the job. He is too embarrassed to accept the truth so he lies to his girlfriend and pretends to transcribe the novel when what he is doing is writing his own book. He searches for inspiration and an idea for the plot and looks back on a romance that he was involved in eight years ago and lost. The movie looks at how the lies we tell ourselves so that we can get by get us into trouble.

Julio’s relationship with Blanca dies because of Julio’s preoccupation with his earlier romance with Emilia that he lost when she died. He and Blanca got together because they were bored with their lives so their relationship really never went anywhere. Julio continuously looks back and when he starts to lie to Blanca, he seals the fate of their “relationship”. Even though the lies he tells are not serious, they catch up with him and undermine everything he does. Julio names his book “Bonsai” and is an autobiography of his relationship with Emilia.

The movie is named “Bonsai” because of the title of Julio’s “book” and it is a metaphor for his relationship with Emilia because “to grow a bonsai, one must tie down the plant’s branches in order to imitate the weight of snow in nature. The mildly depressing comparison is drawn to his own past relationship with Emilia, in which the two unceremoniously tied themselves down and took on each other’s burden in order to remain together”. Additionally, we learn that once a Bonsai is removed from its [pt, it will no longer be a Bonsai but will grow in the same way a normal plant does. In order for a relationship to last, it needs a strong foundation> Julio and Emilio both loved literature but they lied to each other that they had both read Proust.
“Carefully interwoven into the 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 molded to fit the story”.

Jiménez effortlessly transitions between Julio the college student, and Julio the struggling writer working eight years later in a bookstore and tutoring Latin. Each timeframe parallels the other: as a student, Julio falls in love with Emilia, telling a small white lie (he read Proust) the first time he sleeps with her; as a writer, Julio’s ability to craft a story has matured, his deception becomes more elaborate, his use of language more creative”.

The film is directed by Chilean Cristian Jimenez and he tells his story in a nonlinear fashion with flashbacks and fast forwards. Literature is cleverly used as are plants and music and because of this the film can be seen on many different levels. I found the movie to be clever and totally enjoyable.