Monday, May 10, 2010

The Bridge (2006)

This week I'm taking a look at a bunch of documentaries you've probably steered clear of, assuming you've ever heard of them at all. I'm beginning with the sad film The Bridge.

The Bridge is the story of the Golden Gate Bridge and the people who jump from it. Filmmakers filmed the bridge for a year filming people who jumped, those who tried and those who goofed off and made their heart stop when they thought they might.(Yes they did call the police) Intercut with the footage are interviews with the survivors of those who jumped, as well as one man who stopped a young lady from jumping and a young man who survived.

Sad, maudlin and a trip to a place that many off us who have considered seeing what was on the other side may have visited, this is a good little film that makes you think about what it means to be alive and what would make you want to stop being so. There are no revelations, just of portraits of people who were loved but who needed something else. The suicides are at first shocking but then just sort of become almost matter of fact. I don't mean that last statement to shock but its the territory you're in from the moment the film starts.

I like the film, but I don't love it. To be certain it makes you think. To be certain it makes you feel...even smile, but in the end I wasn't sure if it added up to very much for me. What was the point of this? I still don't know. Other than making a bi-weekly occurrence real I don't know why I watched the film. You're showing me this because? I don't think there is a clear answer.

I know part of my problem with the film is that the inter-cutting of stories makes the film seem unfocused in some places. More than once I was going "okay which person are they talking about?". I also kept waiting for the black leather clad Gene to jump. We see him at the start but we don't see his finish until the end (saved no doubt because its shocking) and it just kind of draws out the moment past the breaking point, it was here that I lost the notion that the film was going to tell me something I didn't already know. Its the films hesitation and stretching of the moment that keeps the film from becoming a great film. A better way of describing the film might be as an extended "You Tube" clip instead of a "PBS documentary" on the subject. (Its also more than a bit mondo movie exploitive in it use of death footage)

And yet however ambivelent I am I'm haunted by the film. there is something about the film, something past the its easily pointed out flaws that stays with you. Its this sense of something that you can't shake that makes this something you might want to see. Worth a look for those who can stand such a dark subject and for those who want to see a smile inducing survivor who's sudden change of heart is very real and honest (its about half way in).

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