Films about poor people are so common in Philippine indie movies that it has unwittingly become the country’s niche in overseas film festivals. The Japanese have anime. The Chinese have martial arts. We have depravity flicks.
In fairness, Bomba does have a few things going for it. It features great performances from Allen Dizon and Angeli Sanoy. The production design paints a detailed world of poverty, where their characters do whatever they can to survive. Their devotion to each other makes a good contrast to their grim surroundings.
At the same time, it’s easy to see Bomba as another poverty porn because of a meandering story and underwritten characters in a world that we’ve seen countless times before in much more compelling films.
Acclaimed examples include Ma’Rosa which showed us the tedious way of surviving life in a lawless world. And Respeto, which portrayed the cycle of violence and poverty through a distinct mentoring story.
In Bomba, the hapless leads are stuck in a glacially paced and overlong character study, where a deaf-mute and a teenager are plot devices for its poverty-stricken and violent landscape. Amidst poor living conditions and drug-related violence, there’s child abuse, a taboo relationship, and discrimination. All the while we know little about these characters except that they traded one way of life for the worst one.
The movie eventually reaches its climax after a long build-up but Bomba ends abruptly, with no resolution nor meaning.
There is a story here about the union of two ill-fated people that are as morally questionable as its surroundings, as well as the invisible poor people that are helpless against the harsh realities of their life.
Unfortunately, Bomba has neither the compelling characters and engaging story to drive it beyond depravity and make the audience care. In a country half-sunk by corruption and crab mentality and half buoyed by brain drain and sometimes glorified slavery, there are far more things to tackle than mine shock value.
Bomba is an overlong uneventful character study that has little to offer beyond poverty porn.