by Film Notes
Bona reminds me of Italian neo-realism with its emphasis on describing poverty and on very real, ordinary, believable human situations. I think, though, that time has given the classic Italian neo-realist films a kind of lustre which sort of distances them. Bona hadthe kind of immediacy, the feeling of watching “real life” that I suppose the neo-realist films had in the 40s.
I was thinking of saying that this film had an “amateurish” quality, but I think that a more appropriate word would be “rough.” It has a rough, unvarnished look about it.
Bona is a teenage girl, a young adult, who has an unhappy home life and develops an attachment to an extra or bit player in films. She moves in with him. She loves him but he regards her as a servant. He brings other women home and expects her to serve them. Her father appears, they fight and he has an attack and is taken to the hospital. He later dies and Bona’s mother sends for her to come to the wake where her brother throws her out. The actor, Gardo, informs her that he is leaving with another woman. He advises her to go home, but she can’t. The film ends when Bona scalds him with a pot of boiling water.
The performers are believable to a fault, but Nora Aunor steals the show as Bona. Her name is the title of the film and we feel for her. She is uncooperative in her home where her parents (her father, especially) yell at her, but willingly works to serve Gardo—so we see that she isn’t lazy. She comes across as meek and passive and in that final scene the repressed anger erupts.
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