Samson and Delilahmovie review: Although a significant haircut is central to this tale of unlikely love, Samson and Delilah has as much in common with biblical largess as, say, Ashton Kutcher. Rabbit Proof Fence is a better starting point in terms of Thorton’s overwhelming drama about wayward Aboriginal teenagers. While decades separate these stories of harm at the hand of authority, not much else does as Australia’s neglected generation is examined with devastating effect.
In a remote, broken community, a bored, loutish boy spends wasted days sniffing petrol and trying to impress Delilah. But he has no place in her future, one suggested by commitment to her Aunty, a painter whose work sells for thousands in nearby Alice Springs. Naturally, they see very little cash. When Aunty dies and Delilah is vilified for her loss, Samson makes his move and takes them to town – a plan that extends no further than sleeping under a bridge with a jar of petrol. Their lot quickly tumbles from unbearable to untenable.
If the distressing journey that is Samson and Delilah could ever be considered a delight, then that’s what Thornton has achieved. Vibrant cinematography and sparse dialogue – the principle actors speak barely ten words – illuminates the emptiness of their lives in contrast to the failed richness of their world. Any lapse, such as infrequent choices to use a trowel where a brush would have done, is more than compensated by revelatory performances from newcomers McNamara and Gibson. They bring an unexpected intensity to the film that is rounded out by Scott Thornton’s gutsy bravado as a homeless drunk who befriends them.
Samson and Delilah is an unusual love story that won’t satisfy rom-com audiences looking for, say, Ashton Kutcher. Thornton’s desolate style is too challenging for that. But in daring to speak about an indigenous reality with unpalatable honesty, he has set a new benchmark and successfully staked out new territory in Australian cinema.
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