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Simon Read [Film Festival 11.17.09] Australia movie review drama

Year: 2009
Directors: Warwick Thornton
Writers: Warwick Thornton
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Another film from LIFF that’s difficult to categorize - Samson and Delilah is a kind of drama, love story and tale of life on the poverty line for the two eponymous teenagers. Samson spends his days in a constant chemical haze as he sniffs glue and paint, while Delilah cares for her grandmother; in their quiet village in the Australian outback. Delilah’s Nana paints Aboriginal art-work to pay the bills, as the landlord takes them into the city to sell for a profit, while Samson lives with his brothers whose band practice plays over village life almost 24/7.

Samson follows Delilah as she takes her Nana to the local clinic for medication, and after he kills a kangaroo, takes the carcass to her home as a gift. He writes graffiti on the wall of the local store: “S 4 D – Only Ones”. Soon enough a sort of inevitable love blossoms between the pair, but sudden tragedy strikes and they are forced out of the village, and wind-up living underneath an enormous highway on the outskirts of a city. Here they meet a friendly tramp called Gonzo, who welcomes them to his patch, “In order for us Bob to survive, you gotta chuck in though, okay?” At this point the film becomes extremely intense and takes some dark turns, as the pair struggle to simply survive in an urban wasteland where help in non-existent.

Samson and Delilah is a film with almost no dialogue whatsoever. What lines are included are there more as background noise, with the exception of Gonzo, who acts both as a comic relief and as a symbol of how the system can chew someone up and spit them out. While this choice leaves the film open to criticism (some scenes do drag and exposition is occasionally vague) it doesn’t detract from the impact of the film as a whole. We don’t need any explanation when we see an exhausted Delilah putting Nana to bed and then climbing into an old truck, putting some Spanish guitar music on the stereo and having the only time she has to herself in the day to relax. Nor do we need any expiatory dialogue when, sick to death of his brothers music, Samson grabs a log and beats them senseless. It’s all in the impressive performances and skillful direction.

The film is not perfect, with a sudden change in tone towards the end that threw me a little. Anyone enjoying the grimly realistic situation that the pair find themselves in as an unusually satisfying route for the film to take, may find themselves feeling a little frustrated with the twist. However, just because I found the last act a little hard to swallow, doesn’t remove anything from the fact that this is a very powerful and moving film. Strong performances, excellent music and sound design, and splendid direction from Warwick Thornton.

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Ann Onymouse (12 years ago) Reply

This was the most awful film I have ever seen!
The critics are all following "The Emperors new cloths" fairy story. If this is real portrayal of how aboriginal life is - I think we would be better not to show it on the world stage.

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