Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review - Samson and Delilah

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a couple low-key but worthwhile screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Samson and Delilah is a poignant tale of hardship and companionship between two destitute Aborigine youths in rural Australia. Samson is a lay-about who spends all his time getting high on the fumes of whatever he an find (glue, permanent markers, gasoline), as a therapy for dulling the painful monotony of his day-to-day life. Delilah cares for her ailing grandmother, who’s exploited by greedy art merchants for her paintings. When Delilah’s grandmother dies, she is blamed and essentially outcast from her already disconnected community. Though not on friendly terms, she and Samson head out to the city, live in squalor, and come to form a meaningful friendship. All of this without sharing a single word of dialogue.

This is both the film’s greatest strength and greatest weakness: it’s interesting to watch Samson and Delilah’s relationship evolve through exclusively nonverbal communication (a testament to Warwick Thornton’s visual direction), but something seems decidedly not believable that these two characters would go through such tribulations together and not utter a single word to each other.

It’s a very minimalist picture, handsomely shot by Thornton himself, which is ultimately rewarding to those attentive enough to withstand the slow pace. However, I have to say “no Oscar for you” to Samson and Delilah, as it just doesn’t have enough momentum to sustain the general public. It’ll be lucky to secure a limited release in North America.

*** out of ****

Tomorrow: La Soga

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