Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 2008. Help the Bombardier. Screenplay by Randy Sharp. Cinematography by Ben Wolf. Produced by Maggie Engelhardt, Sophia Lin. Music by Max Richter. Production Design by Lucio Seixas. Costume Design by Lee Harper. Film Editing by Jane Rizzo.
The destinies of two men in nineteenth century New York City, both named Henry, cross paths: Henry May has destroyed his family’s expectations by running up debts that get him fired from his position with his employer, and Henry Long faces the fact that he is dying. Long encounters May randomly on the street and convinces him to be his companion on a sea voyage for his final days, in exchange for which he will pay off his debts and set him back up financially. What actually happens in the meantime, however, defies expectations as other characters intrude on their situation and secrets are revealed that turn out to be quite surprising. Although made on a tight budget under the most independent of cinematic circumstances, this period mumblecore of sorts surprises with a gorgeous, haunting musical score, terrific photography (even with a digital camera) and a rich sense of period detail that defies the expertise of Scorsese’s Age Of Innocence or any of Merchant Ivory’s plushest works. The ending appears to intend an ominous quality that is closer to dissatisfying than anything else, but the film is still worth experiencing, especially as all the performances are top-notch.