Soon after I published my novel, Bonobo!, I searched for the title on Amazon to see what came up. To my surprise, I found a film titled Bonobo (no exclamation point), which had been released recently, too. Clearly, this idea’s time had arrived.
So I watched it.
Evaluating it as a work of art: The acting, dialogue, and music are subpar. But the concept – especially focusing on the romantic and erotic desires of an ordinary-looking, middle-aged woman – is quite interesting, and the treatment of the Bonobo House was more complex than I had expected. As my wife said, “This isn’t a story I’ve seen before.”
For me, the best part was the detailed and convincing way that the Bonobo House was presented. I’ve lived in a couple of cooperative houses and visited several others, and we could have learned a lot from the set designers about how to express our ethos with posters, murals, and jokes written on lists of tasks. In short, it was more realistic than reality.
Luckily, the film wasn’t long, so its conceptual charms didn’t have time to fade before it ended.
Evaluating it thematically: I was a little surprised to see that the film had a setting called a “Bonobo House,” like in my novel. And I liked the way that the residents didn’t strictly ape (yes!) bonobo ways. (It was, however, odd to see that the most sexually oriented character was the only one who didn’t fit.) Also, the head of the house tries to engineer mutual self-exposure among participants, which is one interpretation of the Bonobo movement in my book.
In short, this film earned my respect in its thematic development.