The Salton Sea in California was created in 1905 when the Colorado River had so much water that it flooded the area. The water stayed and it quickly became a place for tourists to spend a day at the beach. People settled there in the 1950’s forming various towns including Bombay Beach. Since the surrounding area consists of desert it slowly lost its glory and now it’s a shadow of what it used to be. Director Alma Har’el decided to make a documentary about the town. Just like Errol Morris did in Vernon, Florida it paints a picture of a few of the people living there.
As a viewer you are introduced to a family who used to have fun by blowing things up and shooting guns, until the FBI arrested them. It has had a big effect on the family and its children and we see them struggling with one of them, a boy named Benny who takes a lot of medicine to fight his bipolar disorder. You see he has a hard time dealing with other kids and school and you just hope he manages to find his way in life.
Red is another inhabitant of the town, an old man who tries to stay alive by making a small profit selling cigarettes. CeeJay Thompson is the third subject, a teenager who fled LA to get away from gang violence and has dreams of becoming a NFL player and is falling in love with the sister of one of his friends.
Bombay Beach manages to give you a feeling of the poverty and issues the people of the town deal with, while at the same time also showing the beauty present. Something which really stood out for me about this documentary is the way it looks. Everything has been shot so well that the only way to describe it is artful. It uses a couple of staged scenes which add to a feeling of looking into the souls of these people and seeing their dreams. It might not have the focus a lot of people want from a documentary, but it didn’t bother me as I think it’s an amazing documentary worth checking out.