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Bombay Beach (2011)

Bombay Beach


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 26
Rotten: 8

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

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

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 330


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 … More

Documentary , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Jan 16, 2012
Focus World - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Bombay Beach

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

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

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Har'el's film is at times bizarrely uplifting, at others crushingly sad...

Full Review… | January 31, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | November 2, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

More lyrical tone poem than straightforward documentary.

Full Review… | October 21, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

You either like this kind of ambitious, brave, borderless experiment or you don't, and I think it's absolutely magical and tragic.

Full Review… | October 13, 2011
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 13, 2011
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 9, 2012
Monsters and Critics

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

Full Review… | February 5, 2012
Observer [UK]

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

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
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.

Full Review… | February 3, 2012

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

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
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.

Full Review… | February 3, 2012
Daily Mirror [UK]

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

Full Review… | February 2, 2012

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.

Full Review… | February 2, 2012
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.

Full Review… | February 1, 2012
The Skinny

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

Full Review… | January 29, 2012
Empire Magazine

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

Full Review… | January 23, 2012
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.

Full Review… | November 7, 2011
Screen International

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

Full Review… | October 21, 2011

...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.

Full Review… | October 14, 2011
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.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

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