Bonnie & Bonnie (2019)

Bonnie & Bonnie
Director: Ali Hakim
Writer: Maike Rasch, Ali Hakim
Cast: Emma Drogunova, Sarah Mahita, Slavko Popadic, Kasem Hoxha, Emma Torner, Miguel Ribeiro, Milena Tscharntke
Seen on: 4.11.2022

Yara (Emma Drogunova) comes from a rather traditional family, dividing her time between home, working in a cornershop, and hanging out with her friends whenever she can. Her family is determined to see her married sooner rather than later. But Yara’s life changes when she meets Kiki (Sara Mahita). Kiki is wild and fascinating and Yara feels very drawn to her. The two start meeting and their meetings tend to take unexpected turns – like when Kiki “borrows” a car without the owner’s knowledge. Soon the two of them find themselves in a lot of trouble. But at least they are together.

Bonnie & Bonnie is okay but it shows the director’s inexperience – this is his first film – in the clumsy storytelling and characterization that leaves the film oddly flat.

The film poster showing Yara (Emma Drogunova) and Kiki (Sara Mahita) almost kissing.

Bonnie & Bonnie builds from a nice idea – two women who find so little space for themselves in their environment that they turn away from social conventions and rules entirely to blaze their own trail. Unfortunately, though, this story never really comes to life. It’s weighed down by stereotypes both in the narrative tropes it deploys and in the characterization of pretty much all the characters.

Especially Yara’s Albanian-Muslim family suffers from this, seemingly playing into every racist stereotype that floats around in German (and Austrian) society. A little more subtlety or complexity here would have helped. One could have mentioned, for example, that German people aren’t free from homomisia either.

Yara (Emma Drogunova) and Kiki (Sara Mahita) sitting on the hood of a car, looking at the sunset.

Drogunova and Mahita do their best and with their high-energy performances they achieve a lot, despite their rather two-dimensional characters. Their romance is sweet and believable. Their crime spree less so, though, and it’s also at this point that the story falls apart a little. Starting with small things like the moniker “Bonnie & Bonnie” cropping up in private conversation between the two women, and then it’s suddenly in the news like that as well; but also with the bigger narrative elements.

Ultimately, Bonnie & Bonnie just didn’t really come together for me. I wanted to like it – queer cinema is always something I’m rooting for – but I found myself mostly indifferent to it.

Yara (Emma Drogunova) and Kiki (Sara Mahita) almost kissing, cellphone for a selfie in hand, as well as a bunch of money.

Summarizing: okay.

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