Tactlessly morbid or remarkably sensitive? Deeply disturbing or viscerally fascinating? Critics are divided on Eric Steele's unique documentary on the Golden Gate Bridge, wonder of the modern world and notorious suicide destination.
Tales are dramatic; the interviewees poignant, and the images -- often following bodies all the way down to the water -- are startling and discomfiting.
You never know who on the Golden Gate is about to leap to his or her death in this compelling documentary, so you have to keep your eyes glued to the screen. 24 tormented souls linked by suicide as a seductive alternative to their unrelenting suffering.
The Bridge avoids reducing its subjects to types, and if the portraits painted are often recognizable -- the person who talks so much about suicide that those around him fail to take him seriously -- they are not repetitive.
By his use of interviews of friends and family of jumpers, Steel reminds us that no matter how alone some of these people felt, they weren't without people who loved them. It is a tender, powerful work.
Though well-meaning, hauntingly scored and artfully photographed, this strange documentary marks the bridge as a mecca for self-inflicted death, while making us helpless observers of such horrific acts.