Bombay Beach

  • Alma Har'el (2011)
  • US
  • 80 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
2 out of 5

A ragtag community on the shores of California's inland Salton Sea is the subject of Alma Har'el's documentary, which blends choreographed elements into an observational study of marginal lives. Once a rich man's paradise, Bombay Beach is now home to a motley collection of social misfits, including parents once jailed for setting up their own military training camp, an ornery old-timer selling bootlegged cigarettes, and a slightly bemused fugitive from South Central LA's deadly gang culture. Although this peek into other people's daily travails is moderately engrossing - mostly when the errant Parrish family's hyperactive young son Benny is on camera - former music video director Ha'rel often seems more interested in them as aesthetic objects than real individuals. At times she dissolves the line between film-maker and subject matter by arranging her cast in dances and tableaux reflecting their inner lives, a conceit which is occasionally visually striking but comes across as pretentious and superficial.

Plot Summary

Stylised documentary about people living on the shores of the Salton Sea - a once popular holiday destination for the rich, which is now home to one of the poorest communities in Southern California.

Cast and crew


Alma Har'el

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Released 3 Feb 2012