Samson and Delilah is hard work. Really hard work. In terms of production, it’s top notch. The cinematography is wonderful, the editing is perfect and the sound design may seem a little too gauche at first, but works for the most part. The two young leads, Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, deliver pitch perfect performances. The problem lies with the writing.
Samson and Delilah live in a remote Aboriginal community comprising one phone, some power lines and half a dozen dilapidated dwellings approximating housing. There’s nothing for anyone to do. Delilah spends her time looking after her elderly grandmother, carting her from one location to the next and helping her with her paintings. Samson does nothing much whatsoever, and has zilch to look forward to but some petrol sniffing to while away the hours.
This flick is advertised as a love story, but this is inaccurate. Samson and Delilah are forced together because a: there’s no one else around and b: there’s nothing else to do. There’s no decent explanation as to why they’d like each other and no good reason why they should. Delilah has her good points, but at best she can only perpetuate the same life of servitude that I’m sure her parents and their parents carried out. Samson is an utter dick – there’s no two ways about it. Sure, he’s been given no positive opportunities his entire life and years of substance abuse have destroyed much of his brain, but that doesn’t make him any more likeable when every single second of screentime shows him to be self-centred and nihilistic.
Together the two of them make a journey that leads from bad to worse, and the film is easily one of the most deflating experiences I’ve ever had in the cinema. It’s just so damn depressing, and more than once feels rather exploitative, plumbing the depths of misery in an attempt to create drama. The protagonists’ actions are so unforgivable that the ‘uplifting’ moments feel ludicrous. The strongest aspect of the film would be that it successfully puts us in their shoes, instead of being the passer-by that tries not to stare at the teenaged addict shuffling through the streets.
Altogether a dreary and unlikeable film, it’s hard to imagine that this would find a large audience.Rating: