Film Movement // 2009 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // November 10th, 2010
A bittersweet comedy about love, family and dropping bombs on Germany.
Bomber is a micro-budgeted British dramedy, the story of an impromptu family road trip in Germany. Eighty-three-year-old Alistar (Benjamin Whitrow, Chicken Run) is visiting the country to atone for an error he made in his days as a pilot during World War 2, but in order to keep him safe his reprobate son Ross (Shane Taylor, Room to Rent) insists on joining him, alongside Alistar's own longsuffering wife (Eileen Nicholas, Trainspotting). Together the family embark on a road trip to a small town where Alistar intends to make a formal apology, but of course tensions run high and emotional uproars become commonplace.
Director Paul Cotter pulls out a decent feature debut here, far from remarkable, but adequate given the obvious financial limits of the production. The film is visually simplistic but rather charming, capturing the rural side of Germany with restraint and a quaint understanding of natural beauty. Bomber does somewhat resemble a TV movie in its aesthetic, but that's not to say it still isn't subtly appealing in a small-scale way. Cotter focuses more on telling the story than attempting to apply glossy cinematography or sweepingly theatrical camera angles, instead opting for a tidy and concise style which suits the story's low-key tone.
The screenplay (also courtesy of Cotter) suffers from the odd crappy line of dialogue, but from an emotional and character standpoint it flows quite agreeably. The personalities onscreen aren't hugely unique or memorable, but they're stenciled with care and boast a believable dynamic; the family present in Bomber feels like the sort of uneasy unit that could exist in any small English village or American suburb. Audiences eventually grow to care about this group, and at a tight 84 minutes their journey is hardly an endurance test. The underlying themes of love and regret are amply examined in the movie, although a subplot involving a devastating break-up Ross is suffering back home isn't well conveyed by the filmmakers. It feels like a tacked on addition to get the ball rolling a little quicker, this element of Bomber lacks the quiet conviction the rest of the picture exhibits.
Performances are decent; nobody really stands out, but as a trio this selection of thespians gel relatively well. Bomber is a modestly entertaining and resonant picture, with a finale that wraps things up on a satisfactorily touching note. It's not the most complicated or radical feature ever committed to celluloid, but folks who like their drama robust and peppered with a few laughs should check Bomber out.
Bomber comes equipped with basic audio and video capability, the latter at time suffering too often from overt graininess. The extras include an illuminating commentary with Cotter and a few members of his cast and crew, alongside a brief snippet of behind the scenes material. The commentary is probably worth a listen simply because Cotter is an engaging talker, and more importantly he has a lot to say about this project. Also included is a 10 minute short from an unrelated German director, it's an odd addition for sure, but not wholly unwelcome.
Not Guilty, worth a rental if you can find it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Film Movement
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Short Film