Bomber is a small comedy done
on a small scale, betrayed by small ideas and a lack of ambition. Although
it captures memorable images of western Europe's backroads, its sitcom
approach to comedy, unrelaxed performances, and unconvincing character
dynamics render Bomber an inert bore.
Alistair is 83 years old and filled with a rarely-expressed regret.
He has planned a trip to Germany with his wife Valerie for many years.
Alistair fought in World War II as a British bomber pilot, and wishes
to revisit a place he was responsible for nearly obliterating. Alistair
and Valerie's son Ross, in the midst of a touchy crisis with his long-term
girlfriend, is roped into driving his parents to their destination on
a road trip scheduled to last only a few days. Things boil to a head
when Ross's girlfriend breaks off the relationship two days into the
trip. Ross blames his father, and this tense father-son dynamic then
drives the rest of the picture, as we follow Alistair and Ross's mutual
attempts to understand one another from opposite sides of a significant
Bomber is peppered with credibility issues. Among them is the
fact that Alistair is an 83-year-old WWII veteran with a 20-something
son. Not impossible, but improbable, especially since Valerie is understood
to be Alistair's wife of many years and his contemporary. Next is Ross's
decision to accompany his parents to begin with. This is a conversation
that writer-director Paul Cotter conveniently leaves out of his narrative.
Ross's relationship with his girlfriend is on the verge of collapse.
And, he doesn't appear to have any kind of strong relationship with
his father. Why he agrees to risk his romantic life in service of a
father he hardly converses with belies the shakiness of Cotter's conceit.
Equally unconvincing and improbable is Ross's surprise - even shock
- when his girlfriend breaks up with him via cell phone halfway through
his roadtrip with his parents. We've seen this coming from the film's
second scene, and there's no reason Ross shouldn't have been able to
detect this danger. This, of course, brings things to a head between
Ross and his father, with his mother standing by as a concerned but
somewhat ineffectual peacekeeper.
Truly, there's not much in Bomber that feels genuine or emotional.
Bomber plays out like a trumped-up Reader's Digest story
calculated to evoke tastefully restrained familial turmoil that is ultimately
dipped in a palatable if overly sweet coating of chocolatey resolution.
These three characters don't for a second feel as though they are related
by blood, or otherwise. The film's setup is sloppy and dry, which leaves
the film's second half borderline meaningless, despite an effort by
Cotter to access an interesting comment on mutual comprehension between
generations separated by vastly differing experiences.
The enhanced widescreen image looks decent. The transfer tends to
betray the film's digital video origins by way of compression artifacts,
which crop up now and again in slight to moderate amounts that were
occasionally distracting. Color and contrast is strong.
The stereo soundtrack has a tendency toward the tinny, especially
when music is on the mix. Dialogue and ambient sounds are generally
There is a commentary track featuring writer-director Cotter
along with members of the cast; the edification to be found on commentary
tracks is usually in proportion to one's interest in the film itself,
and that is certainly true here. I thought it was pretty dry. There
is also a short behind-the-scenes featurette and a selection
of other Film Movement trailers.
In scope and concept, Bomber is a fairly dull television sit-com,
shot in widescreen video for the cinema. Its characters are flat and
its writing is contrived. The film's second half opens up a bit in terms
of the subject matter and themes, but on balance this is unimpressive
work. Rent it.
Casey Burchby lives in Northern California: Twitter, Tumblr.