Not a Movie Snob - Bonobo

Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM

CIFF 2014 Review: Bonobo

by X Dustin Griffin

Bonobo is the story of a couple who, while feeling the weight of financial responsibility bearing down, decide to act upon something that will change the course of their marriage, their lives, and cause them to question their morals, as well as their ability to relate to each other on an intimate level. While that set up may sound like the introduction to a Bonnie and Clyde style story of bank robbers on the run, the reality is much more real and modern.

Sarah and Alec are newlyweds. They have a strong, loving relationship. They are in the honeymoon phase and the only stressor in their lives seems to come from the fact that they are falling quickly behind in bills and Alec is having trouble finding enough work to keep them afloat. Sarah used to be a model. She is contacted one day by someone who noticed her through her past work. This person represents an escort agency that caters to wealthy clients.

Sarah tells Alec about it and at first they laugh it off, but the sum of money they are offering her causes her to consider and then accept the offer. Alec is uncomfortable with it but goes along, knowing how strapped for cash they are, and they take a fateful trip into the city (London), sending Sarah on her date.

Bonobo is an interesting study of relationships. It takes a magnifying glass to concepts in marriage which are fast becoming out of date or old fashioned to many people. Concepts which are integral to the healthy functioning of a marriage. Concepts like monogamy.

There are many different views on what exactly constitutes adultery. For some, merely fantasizing about an extramarital affair is unfaithful. For others, having multiple sexual partners is ok as long as there is no sneaking around. Bonobo doesn’t necessarily take one stance or the other on the topic, but presents a particular scenario and then shows us how it affects the couple in question. It’s a film that seems primed to cause post viewing coffee shop discussions on its topics and at the very least may cause the married people in the audience to think about their own views on monogamy and commitment.

These are topics that invoke a great deal of subjective views and can be tricky to make a film that deals with such touchy subjects. Bonobo director Mark Withers has crafted a thought provoking tale that peers into what it means to be committed and how far you can bend the rod of commitment and still hold onto the feelings that brought you to that level in the first place.

Bonobo is a well made film, the camera work is strong without being flashy, the dialogue has a ring of truth and the performances are great. As the relationship between the two leads heads into difficult territory, the story asks that Christopher Hatherall and Freya Berry step up their game to meet it, and they do.

It is a great film and definitely worth seeking out when it screens this weekend at the Calgary International Film Festival 2014 (CIFF). You can catch Bonobo on Saturday, September 27 @ 6:45 PM at Eau Claire or Sunday, September 28 @ 3:30 PM at Globe Cinema.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to