Samson & Delilah

Writer: Warwick Thornton
Director: Warwick Thornton
Producer: Kath Shelper

Samson & Delilah, Rowan McNamara

[In Australian cinemas April 30 (NSW May 7) through Footprint Films]

Exile, struggle and salvation are all central themes of Warwick Thornton’s first feature Samson and Delilah. But this is no simple allegory. And it is completely unpretentious. In fact, the conceit of this film’s title works precisely because the plight of its protagonists seems of so little consequence to everyone else around them.

Unlike similar angst-ridden couples – from Bonnie and Clyde to Neil Armfield’s Candy to new Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo’s volatile Voy a Explotar (I’m Gonna Explode) – Thornton’s Samson and Delilah elicit a mute protest and quiet pathos.

Thornton’s signature characters are here: the Green Bush radio station and Nana (Mitjili Napanangka Gibson) that made his award winning 2005 and 2007 short films by the same name world celebrated (the former won Best Short in the Panorama section of Berlin and the latter a Crystal Bear). Both bring humour to this otherwise largely bleak landscape. But what I like most about Thornton’s direction in Samson and Delilah is that he never allows the journey to be romanticised. Whilst his stunning cinematography could easily have elicited a nostalgic glow, the Samson and Delilah he creates in long, slow shots and intimate close-ups are all too real.

This narrative runs to its own rhythm and pace. There is no clearly delineated line of cause and effect; action and consequence. There are repetitions, echoes even, but no clear tracks. This will make it a difficult commercial sell but should play well at international festivals. It is Thornton’s homage to a culture (and one that he knows well) in which change does not come quickly or easily and in which the greatest danger is the subtle erosion of hope itself.

Samson & Delilah, Marissa Gibson

  1. Natalia Kurop says:

    This is a wonderful resource and a worthy space to hear all latest insights into the Australian Independent Film Industry. I hope you create a *subscribe button as I would be the first to sign up to receive posts on what’s happening around the traps.

    All the best with your ventures!

    Natalia x

  2. Jem says:

    Nice review, Ms Turk! It’s rare to find an Australian film that seems so unconcerned with ‘being liked’ (the reverse of which there are sadly too many examples to mention, particularly of late) and so concerned with being truthful — even if that truth is best expressed outside the norms of dialogue, character and pacing — and even if it didn’t work on any other level (which it does, brilliantly) it should be celebrated loudly and vigourously for that alone. It feels very – how best to put this? – un-Aurora. Thank fuck.

    I should probably offer a disclaimer w/r/t my involvement, but fuck it, I have to watch nearly as many Australian films as you do, there’s my aesthetic distance AND my motivation. Consider yourself bookmarked!

  3. hunter says:

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