Bombay Beach

"Excellent"

Bombay Beach Review


This startling documentary explores a part of America few even want to admit exists: a place designed as a paradise that has instead become an almost apocalyptic wasteland populated by people who have fallen out of society.

Bombay Beach is a community on the edge of the Salton Sea, just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. But instead of a seaside holiday destination, it's now a collection of falling-down buildings and misfit residents living in the parched desert on the edge of a saltwater lake that's surrounded by dead fish.

Instead of approaching this journalistically, filmmaker Har'el explores the lives of three residents through beautifully shot and edited fly-on-the-wall footage.

Benny is the hyperactive 10-year-old of Mike and Pamela, who have a history of imprisonment on weapons charges. Even though they keep Benny on a variety of intense prescription medications, he's a lively kid who struggles to focus at school and dreams of being a firefighter. Red is long past retirement, enjoying his redneck, chain-smoking, drop-out life in Slab City, where old RVs and caravans go to die. But his severe health issues threaten to change all of this. And CeeJay is a teen football player who moved from South Central L.A. to get away from the violence and improve his chances at being spotted by an NFL scout.

With a Herzogian affection for society's outcasts, Har'el continually finds the most positive, everyday aspects of these people's lives. Benny's playful curiosity and warm family life makes up for what will clearly be a very difficult road ahead. Red's wry humour and salty friends make his waning years enjoyable. And CeeJay finds real hope in this desolate place, as well as the girlfriend he steals from a swaggering jerk.

The film is shot and edited with a sense of artistry that continually catches us off guard, mixing the surreal beauty of the landscape with nasty realism.

Plus a gorgeous musical score that includes a couple of plaintive Bob Dylan songs. This is a side of America that we rarely see on screen: these aren't working class poor, they're completely off the grid. And while the film probably would have been more powerful if it focussed solely on Red's or CeeJay's story, the portrait it paints of life at the end of the world is hauntingly important.



Bombay Beach

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th October 2011

Distributed by: Focus World

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Alma Har'el

Producer: Alma Har'el,

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.