Sunday, 4 October 2015

Film Report: Bonobo (2014)

Here's the first in (perhaps) a regular theme of reports on recent UK films that haven't otherwise had much attention.

Bonobo is a drama about a strait-laced and lonely middle-aged widow called Judith (Tessa Peake-Jones) whose 20-year-old daughter Lily (Eleanor Wyld) has dropped out of law school and left home to join a notorious commune at a place called Bonobo House.  Uptight Judith is determined to "save" her only child from her folly and visits the commune to persuade her to come back - Lily is just as determined not to leave having found an inner peace.  The leader of the small close-knit commune is Anita Janacek (Josie Lawrence), a philosophy doctorate who believes that harmonious living can be achieved by following the behavioural lifestyle of the Bonobo monkey where all members adhere to the principle of making love not war and resolve their differences and disputes accordingly.  Judith is naturally sceptical but is persuaded by Anita to stay with them for a day and experience the way they live and then she will help resolve the pent-up difficulties between mother and daughter.  Judith reluctantly agrees and so embarks upon a life changing new episode in her own life.

Also starring is James Norton who has had a high TV profile recently in shows such as Life in Squares, Granchester, Happy Valley and Lady Chatterley's Lover.  He plays a commune member who has a penchant for doing naked yoga in the garden.  Bonobo is the debut feature of director Matthew Hammett Knott.

The film features both male and female nudity seen as the commune members cavort naked and free outdoors; and at bedtime practising the principles of free love.  Eleanor Wyld does the main honours for the fairer sex and this would seem to be her proper nude debut having previously done a "side view/almost" type scene in Misfits on E4 in 2012 (series 4, episode 2) where she was credited as "Eleanor Wild" playing a blind girl who can see telepathically through her guide dog.

Here is a description of the scenes in Bonobo.
In the pre-credits prologue scene naked commune members are seen running in the forest and then sitting down in a group when Lily sees her mother watching them from behind a tree - although it turns out to be a troublesome dream her mother Judith is having about what she thinks her daughter is getting up to at the commune.  In addition to Eleanor Wyld and some commune men there are also two other naked young women in the group - they are credited as Helen Anslow and Carolyn Mellor although they are not seen again in the rest of the film so are essentially non-speaking extras.  A little while later Judith dwells on it a bit more and we see a few more new shots of Eleanor Wyld topless.  There is a brief moment when Judith thinks she sees Lily prancing about naked in her back garden in a window reflection - but it is her imagination and makes her realise how lonely she is without her daughter.  Later on at the commune Lily is seen topless making love astride Ralph (James Norton) on a bed.  And lastly Lily is seen with (mostly) rear nudity larking around in the commune garden with two of the guys as they play a prank on Ralph while he is sitting meditating.

Eleanor Wyld in Bonobo

Eleanor Wild in Misfits

NOTE. If you seek out this film be aware that strangely enough there were two full-length UK films released in 2014 called "Bonobo".  The other one is an entirely different story and stars Caroline Langrishe.

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