Some might say it is a simple love story, but delve deeper and you will find one of the richest narratives told in Australian cinema.
In an isolated community in the central desert of Australia, Delilah (Marissa Gibson) spends the days caring for her cheeky, elderly grandmother, Nana (Mitjili Napanangka Gibson), helping her produce her artwork and trying to avoid Samson.
Samson (Rowan McNamara) wants nothing more than to get the attention of Delilah. He spends his days listening to his ghetto blaster and trying to play in his brother’s reggae band. Unfortunately he likes rock ‘n’ roll but they play reggae. But Samson is addicted to petrol-sniffing and the horrifying images of Samson cradling his addiction almost as if it was a baby, shows the dysfunction and stasis of his life.
After personal tragedy and seemingly ill-placed violence, Samson decides to escape from his community with Delilah by stealing a car and heading to Alice Springs. After finally settling into a makeshift camp under a bridge, Samson and Delilah grapple with the basics of survival.
While the plot may seem deceptively simple, Warwick Thornton is a consummate filmmaker who knows not only how to make cinema but how to engage audiences through a multitude of symbolism, narrative, gesture, behaviour and plot.
The extraordinary performances of Marissa Gibson and Rowan McNamara convey the universal language of humanity. People who may have never been exposed to life like this will still be engaged by the wonderful characterisation of the two young actors. Thornton has said that he probably would not have been able to get these performances from trained actors. The ‘truth’ and experience they bring to the screen is so honest, raw and harrowing; it delivers a sucker punch right in the pit of your stomach.
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