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Bomber
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Recent Reviews:

Variety

Familiar in gist as a road-trip dramedy mapping the gradual warming -- or maybe not -- between exasperated Brit offspring and exasperating parent, Brit-Yank co-production "Bomber" nonetheless makes an immediately likable impression that deepens into poignancy. Impressive feature debut for writer-director Paul Cotter, who's made several well-traveled shorts, might be too small and unflashy to attract theatrical exposure. But it's sure to make more friends in continued fest travel and niche smallscreen sales while paving the way for the helmer's future endeavors. An art-school graduate turned underemployed layabout, or so he feels, Ross (Shane Taylor, "Band of Brothers") isn't exactly joyful when a senior-moment driving mishap gets him drafted as chauffeur for his parents' long-planned trip to Germany. Nobly, eightysomething dad Alistar (Benjamin Whitrow) wants to apologize to a village he'd accidentally dropped bombs on as an 18-year-old RAF flyer on his first mission during WWII. But Alistar is also an emotionally constipated wellspring of negativity who endlessly puts down his son and is hardly more sensitive toward long-suffering, forcedly cheerful spouse Valerie (Eileen Nicholas). Adding to the stress, Ross' unexpected absence on family business just might be the last straw for his already fed-up live-in girlfriend. Once they arrive in the awfully quaint Deutsche hamlet -- after considerable conflict en route -- Alistar's planned penance doesn't have the cathartic result expected. His reaction, and Valerie's belatedly divulged dissatisfactions, push touchy-feely Ross into the role of martial counselor. Yet Cotter ultimately resists going in the warm-and-fuzzy direction one expects, allowing for an ambiguity as to whether troubled long-term unions can be repaired or should be allowed to expire naturally, however unpleasantly. Even then, however, "Bomber" tastes less bitter than agreeably bittersweet. Perfs by young and veteran leads alike are first-rate, as is the handling of the on-the-move production by d.p. Rick Siegel (a U.S. broadcast vet), editor Matt Maddox and composer Stephen Coates (of the Real Tuesday Weld, a cult U.K. one-man "band"), all feature-film debutants. Tech aspects are very good on a low budget. (Dennis Harvey)


Paste Magazine

An 83-year-old Englishman (Benjamin Whitrow) journeys to Germany with his wife (Eileen Nicholas) and grown son (Shane Taylor) to apologize for accidentally bombing a village during World War II. The excuse for the trip, though worthy, is a only small part of this hilarious story of connecting with elderly parents. With endearing performances and a witty script Bomber is one of my favorite fi lms of SXSW. (Tim Basham)


Austin Chronicle
The lure of the road movie, with its combination of claustrophobic character analysis and wide-open sets, is undeniable. They serve as necessary reminders that life is about the journey. In Bomber’s case, three family members have different journeys: the father, one of guilt and forgiveness; the mother, one of self-discovery; and the twenty-something son, one of frustration and self-loathing. The three journeymen are shoved in a van and trek across Europe, butting heads repeatedly to both dramatic and comedic effect. For a movie that follows the rules of the road so closely, it helps that director/writer Cotter hits all the bases solidly: The script reads naturally, the characters are endearing, and the cinematography is evocative and fresh. Echoes of Little Miss Sunshine abound (right down to the indie soundtrack and Helvetica titles), but Bomber doesn’t tie up the loose ends quite so tightly. Cotter’s road extends into the horizon as the credits roll. (James Renovitch)

Cinematical

Bomber is a prime example of a movie that feels fresh and insightful even though its individual elements are familiar. It’s about a road trip, an underemployed 30-year-old man-child who lacks direction, a husband and wife who no longer communicate, and a family that must learn to relate to one another again. Not exactly a ground-breaker, obviously, but writer/director Paul Cotter’s feature debut benefi ts from strong performances and from Cotter’s knack for avoiding the obvious, easy resolutions. The married couple are Alistar (Benjamin Whitrow) and Valerie (Eileen Nicholas), both British, fairly upper-class, and in their 80s. They are embarking on a road trip to Germany, where Alistar wants to visit a particular small village for reasons the fi lm saves for later. (It doesn’t exactly spoil the movie, but it’s better not to know -- which means you shouldn’t read the plot description at IMDb.) Their son, Ross (Shane Taylor), is an artist (read: unemployed) and not a particularly ambitious one. At the last minute, and due to his parents’ doddering incompetence, he joins them on their trip, resentful at having to leave his girlfriend behind. The tensions, which Cotter mines for both laughs and winces, emerge immediately. Alistar thinks Ross is wasting his life. Ross thinks his dad is a stubborn old fool. Valerie only wants to visit dotty museums and 150-year-old Dutch shoe shops, and to keep things peaceful between her husband and son. She also, we fi nd out, wishes Alistar would pay more attention to her, and Ross’ relationship drama with his girlfriend (conducted via cell phone) inspires her to take action. What we have here are people who love each other, in their own fashion, but who have lost the ability to communicate. Alistar is haunted by his experiences in World War II, Valerie feels shut out, and Ross feels the frustration inherent in being a grown man with no direction. Cotter gives the two older actors some rich, heartfelt monologues to deliver, which they do with terrifi c warmth, and there is some real emotional pull under the squabbling and re- connecting. I note that while the film was obviously inexpensive to make, it doesn’t look amateurish. Shots are framed beauti- fully, the colors are vivid, the dramatic beats come at the right time, the performances are as good as anything in Hollywood -- the only difference is that the actors aren’t as famous and nobody spent $50 million on marketing. But it’s humorous and sweet, a lovely little fi lm that deserves an audience if it can fi nd one. (Eric Snider)


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