Samson & Delilah
Warwick Thornton / Australia / 2009
Every day is like Sunday in ‘Samson & Delilah' - or at least how Sundays used to be. Nothing much happens. A pair of biblically named teenagers mooch about the scorching hot Australian outback village they live in. Every day is the same, whether they're scooting about on an old wheelchair or hiding away in a parked car listening to Mexican singers. Except that one minute they're shooting the breeze at home, the next they're living homeless underneath a road-bridge.
Incredibly how they end up there isn't nearly as important as how the duo get along in this unusual mixture of love story and social commentary. Like all lopsided love stories Delilah really doesn't care for Samson at first despite her hectoring grandma who laughs and loudly says otherwise at inappropriate moments. Mostly wordless this is a romance of glances and painful shared experience. When Samson beats his older brother up and Delilah's grandmother dies the pair skip town in a hurry only to end up destitute but still caring for each other.
By continually looping the characters into ‘Groundhog Day' style repetition viewers get phased into spotting the little things. Every time Sampson wakes up at home, for example, his brother's band are strumming out reggae chords. So when it stops we're mystified for a few seconds before the daily pattern resumes skipping over whatever the disruption was. Throw in some far larger problems and you can begin to sense how inevitable homelessness feels for the couple (and the audience) once they're stuck in it.
Newbie feature director Warwick Thornton scooped up an award at last year's Cannes Film Festival for this one. From the sparse dialogue to the depiction of aboriginal communities rarely seen on film it's not hard to see why it appealed to the arthouse set. ‘Samson & Delilah' carries a similar summer-gone-hideously-wrong feel to the David Gordon Green film ‘George Washington' if you've ever seen it.
Depressing and redeeming by turn the film is full of wordless anger such as when Delilah spies one of her grandmother's tribal paintings in a trendy gallery selling for 22 thousand dollars. Her grandmother sold it for about 20! Teetering on the edge of audience boredom the real surprise here is how Thornton utterly refuses to let his characters slip into despair. For every knock-back the pair stick together proving that however bad it gets Sundays are always followed by Mondays.