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Bombay Beach

Bombay Beach (2011)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 329

My Rating

Movie Info

True to her roots as a photographer, video artist, and music video director, Alma Har'el crafts an adamantly atypical and artistically innovative film telling the story of of three protagonists: Benny Parrish, a young boy diagnosed with bipolar disorder whose troubled soul and vivid imagination create both suffering and joy for him and his complex and loving family. CeeJay Thompson, a black teenager and aspiring football player who has taken refuge in Bombay Beach hoping to avoid the same fate

Jan 16, 2012

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (8) | DVD (1)

"Bombay Beach" is an oasis of creativity in the documentary landscape.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Har'el's film is at times bizarrely uplifting, at others crushingly sad...

January 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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That it documents rural poverty in the American West without exploiting or sanctifying its subjects would be cause enough for praise. But this doesn't begin to approach what Alma Har'el pulls off with her hybrid doc knockout Bombay Beach.

November 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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More lyrical tone poem than straightforward documentary.

October 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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You either like this kind of ambitious, brave, borderless experiment or you don't, and I think it's absolutely magical and tragic.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While stand-alone scenes leave strong impressions, the recurring strands simply aren't compelling

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Off the deep end of poverty porn, there seems little good to be had from this gritty tour of a destitute corner of America.

February 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Monsters and Critics
Monsters and Critics

A compelling, highly self-conscious documentary, it's involving, mystifying, unpatronising and carefully orchestrated.

February 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Har'el seems to tell us that nobody can be completely defeated, even by the most unfortunate circumstances.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Director Alma Har'el has fused the small-town documentary with a music video sensibility to create something breathtakingly original and genuinely beautiful.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Drifts in and out of reality and leaves your head somewhere in between.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

While candidly exploring the hard lives of the characters and their families, the film earns an extra star from some inspired moments of magical realism, with one scene involving a child, a fire engine and a Bob Dylan tune that'll make your spine tingle.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

It's a rich slice of Americana, and there's a great soundtrack from musicians including Bob Dylan.

February 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian

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.

February 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

The story tells itself, making plenty of room for an artistic flair and injection of sound that elevate the film from a simple documentary to an artistic exploration.

February 1, 2012 Full Review Source: The Skinny
The Skinny

The fact that Alma Har'el is still stuck in music video director mode makes for an interesting new breed of documentary.

January 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Quirky, moving and unique, it's a haunting bedside view of the place the American Dream went to die.

January 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Alma Har'el magical and poetical film Bombay Beach is an enchanting documentary hybrid, beautifully capturing the realities and the dreams of those intriguingly oddball folk who live in the faded and rather surreal California community by the Salton Sea.

November 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

[T]he moody film is a compassionate portrait, [but] wanders around the mostly downtrodden too much, even with brief flashes of optimism.

October 21, 2011 Full Review Source:

...schemers and dreamers spend their days scrabbling, dancing and drifting in Alma Har'el's arresting, Dylan- and Beirut-scored art project of a documentary.

October 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for Bombay Beach

Arty documentary focusing on three subjects---a troubled and over-medicated young boy, a football-playing teen transplant fleeing gang violence in L.A., and a crusty old cigarette bootlegger---in decaying Salton Sea, CA, an impoverished desert burg. Inconclusive but impressive chronicle of the lives of outcasts in one of the last places in America where it's still possible to live as an individual. The soundtrack by Beruit and Bob Dylan helps a lot.
March 11, 2012
Greg S

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