Bomber (Director: Paul Cotter): A well-edited trailer and an interesting premise drew me to this film, and I have to say up front that Bomber didn’t quite live up to expectations. It’s a film I wanted to like. Ross is an underemployed art school graduate with an extremely possessive girlfriend. To make things worse, he’s been dragged unwillingly along on a road trip with his parents. His father, Alistar, was a teenage bomber pilot for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and wants to return to the small village in Germany he accidentally bombed in order to apologize. Director Cotter used only three actors and seven crew, picking the rest of his cast from among the local townspeople. So far, so good. There is actually a lot to like about Bomber: it’s beautifully shot in high-definition, there’s a wonderful soundtrack (especially the songs by Sweden’s Marching Band), and the performances are generally good. Where the film let me down was in its weak script. Hackneyed dialogue and crude attempts at humour didn’t bother most of the audience, but they did grate with this reviewer. The pacing could have been tightened up a bit too. The bits I enjoyed the most were actually the dialogue-free shots of the family van driving through the Dutch and German landscapes, accompanied by the excellent soundtrack music. Unfortunately, those shots could very well have occurred in a car commercial.
Most frustrating for me was the way son Ross progresses from a total emotional meltdown in one scene, trying to attack his parents from outside the van, to later giving them lectures filled with psychobabble like “you just have to express what you’re feeling.” Normally, comedies are full of characters this inconsistent, but the problem is that Bomber isn’t strictly a comedy, and when it went for any sort of emotional payoff, I was unmoved because these characters hadn’t really been developed beyond sketches.
I suspect that Cotter fell prey to the misconception that he needed to be an auteur, both writing and directing his first feature film. Though the idea germinated with him and his own family history (and in fact he has also written a radio play called Dropping Bombs essentially covering the same ground), I think the story would have been better served by bringing in a more experienced scriptwriter, who could have polished Bomber into a much better film.