Monday, 16 November 2009

LEEDS FILM FEST REVIEW: Samson and Delilah

What is it about senseless violence being in every film I see at the film festival?! I sense a disturbing pattern emerging!

This film suffers from Staggered Ending Syndrome, and should actually have ended about 15 minutes before it did. Yes, it would have been horribly depressing, but it also would have been powerful and satisfying. The last 'act' drags it down.

The film follows the relationship between two Aborigine teenagers – Samson and Delilah – whose courtship consists of throwing stones at each other and Samson following Delilah around as she cares for her elderly sick nana.  The reason for this behaviour soon becomes clear as the two ‘lovers’ don’t speak a word to each other (and they don’t throughout the whole of the film) because of language difficulties. Samson has trouble speaking any words at all, even his name, and whilst Delilah can speak and is seen conversing with her grandmother, because she is from a different tribe to Samson it is possible she speaks a dialect of the language he doesn’t understand. Instead, their love is depicted as a loyalty to one another and a soul deep devotion and companionship.  We begin to accept and route for them as a couple through their actions towards one another, and it’s a testamount to the power of love.

After the death of her nana and a vicious beating from her tribe who take it as her fault, Delilah is rescued by Samson who steals the community car and they drive off together to try and survive alone on the streets of the nearest town. The harshness of their lives is only compounded by the prejudice they receive from the locals, and Samson’s ongoing substance abuse which he becomes reliant on to escape their day to day difficulties.

The pace of the film is quite slow (heightened by the lack of dialogue), so episodes of high drama are really startling (at one point something so unexpected and violent happens I was able to watch from my viewpoint the whole audience flinched and gasped in unison!). There are intervals of comedy too, with the cheerful homeless man they befriend in the town who sings about how great it is to be having spaghetti for his breakfast!

The lack of conversation between the two leads means they remain slightly aloof from the audience making it hard to truly relate to them, but the film is worth watching for the engaging story – because with all its flaws, it still remains a triumphant fight against injustice and a victory for love. Although I still would have preferred depressing…

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