They say that a good movie draws you in within the first fifteen minutes and keeps you in throughout the entire film, making it seem like that hour and a half or so went for ten minutes, oh did the movie just end? This is the exact effect that happened to me while watching Samson and Delilah, an Australian film directed by Warwick Thorton. I had been wanting to see this film since it won the Golden Camera Award at Cannes. I seriously was not disappointed, which I told my mum after exiting the film, that this was most definitely not overrated, not in the least.
The thing that tells me this film is so unbelievably fantastic is that so much is conveyed without dialogue, in fact the film barelly has any dialogue in it and the character’s emotions are very much conveyed through action and the very clever and skillful cinematography. One of my favourite parts of this film is near the beginning where Samson throws a rock into Delilah’s back, an ‘obvious’ sign of affection. So yes, there are light-hearted parts to this highly captivating, yet depressing film about aboriginal teenages that slowly get destroyed by drugs, deaths and violence. On the whole if this movie does not make you cry I will be shocked! The scenes are touching and so well put together, with a large use of silhouetted images, conveying the dark shadows that lie over these characters and the dark world in which they live, even though it is very much bright and sunny on a daily basis, this is not their life. One scene that makes you realise just how desperate these teenages are is when Delilah tries to sell her art work to people sitting in cafes and they all just look at her disapprovingly, because she is covered in dirt and obviously homeless, this long shot that pans across all these people looking at her with disgust makes me realise just how lucky we are. They do not even have a house to live in. The film is so well done, where everything is true to the story, and done so realistically, where you feel this stabbing pain in your chest when you realise that Samson’s brain is so fried that he does not even realise that Delilah is being dragged away into a car by thugs. The background simply blurs as he stumbles on, petrol in hand. Oh and do not worry I am not ruining any substantial plot details.
This film also does extraordinarily well at capturing the context in which these two individuals are unfortunately placed as the beginning of the film shows the routined lives of these two individuals, a simple repetition of the same events everyday, where they do everything they can to somewhat survive in this tiny outback town, made up of a few houses and a lot of dust. The wide birds-eye view angles of the town truly capture the desperate nature of these people on an everyday basis. This mixed with Delilah wheelchairing her nana back and forth along a dusty road and forcing her to take her tablets every morning establishes her character as someone who has grown up too quickly, who has had to look after someone, when perhaps she is the one that needs to be looked after. Even though there is very little dialogue this film uses music very well to not only express the routine of their lives through ‘the verandah band’ but also music as a metaphor for peace, whenever either of these two people hear music they are spellbounded into this exterior world, a world where everything seems just that little bit better. This is so wonderfully shown in a shot that shows Samson dancing in slow motion, the camera close up on his body as he is absorbed into the music. It is moments like this that make you realise how special this film is, one that is also so close to home in an Australian context also makes it that little bit better, it is always good to see a well made Australian movie, well it gives me hope anyway.
Now that I think back on this film it makes me feel this little sense of shame that I have ever complained about anything in my whole life, because I have never experienced anything has horrible as these two teenages, stuck in the middle of no where, ostracised from the only place that represents a tiny bit of safety, that really is not even that safe. Without dialogue you feel these two individuals love in these dire circumstances as they watch each other and in some ways look after each other in the best way they can, well in Delilah’s case anyway. I look back at this film and realise just how brilliant it is because it has so little dialogue and so so much heart at its very core, because without the strength in character that these two people have I do not know how they would ever have survived.