Delirious (2007)

Delirious (2007)

Film review by: Witney Seibold


            Director Tom DiCillo is too innately talented a director to make an outright awful film, so his newest, “Delirious,” has a lot of very good things in it. As a whole, though, the film is a mess.

            Examples of the good stuff: The casting is superb. Steve Buscemi plays a bastard misanthrope. It’s good casting, and he does a good job playing a man who cannot help but be a paparazzo scum. Alison Lohman plays a vapid teen star touched by love. Michael Pitt seems to be getting better and better, and is believable as a charming and honest street person. Gina Gershon adds professionalism and heft to her too-small role. There are some truly romantic moments between Pitt and Lohman, some good statements of the meaning of friendship, and I liked the moments when the film became about honesty.


            But then there’s the rest of the film to contend with which is part farce, part revenge tragedy, part fluffy romantic comedy, and not capable at any of them. There is a great catharsis at the end, but the film has spent so much time jerking us from sub-genre to sub-genre, and leading us down confusing story alleyways, that is hasn’t earned any of its catharses.


            The plotting is a bit twisty-turny, so stay with me: charming homeless NYC kid Toby (Pitt) runs into a group of paparazzi waiting for starlet K’harma (Lohman), and meets the scummiest of the bunch, Les (Buscemi) that way. Les allows Toby to sleep at his horribly cramped apartment for a night, and that soon grows into a employer/employee situation. Les and Toby begin calling one another “friend,” although it’s clear from the outset that Les is too much of an opportunist and celebrity leghumper to really hold anyone close; he defines friendship as “the people who wait for you to stop talking so they can talk about themselves.” Les also talks a lot about taking his portfolio to more legit publications than the celebrity gossip rags he makes a living from, but he is also too much of a paparazzo at heart to really want anything but brushes with fame that his current job offers.


            Toby has several meaningful glances with K’harma at Les’ gigs, and he ends up being pulled into her limo, and his frankness, freshness, and honesty makes fro an instant romance. This will all inevitably lead to a scene where Toby has to introduce Les to K’harma, and Les can only blow it and screw up the potential romance. Of course Les can’t help take pictures of Elvis Costello (playing himself) at a party, of course K’harma is pissed off. Of course she and Toby are separated. The film has elapsed about 80 minutes at this point, and we think it’s over.


            And then, and then… The film continues. Which means we know that there’s nowhere to go but the inevitable reunion of Toby and K’harma, and the redemption of Les.


            Toby erases the Elcis Costello pictures, escapes Les’ apartment, and is hired (rather suddenly) by a sexy casting agent (Gershon) as the lead in her new reality series, and the stud in her bedroom. Les looks at the fame on TV and seethes. He tries as hard as he can to get back into Toby’s good graces. Toby reveals his love for K’harma live on television, and Les plots a revenge which involves installing a gun in a camera.


            That’s a long way to go.


            The film, I think, wanted to make a comment on celebrity culture and the obsession with Celebrity undercuts any honesty, reality, or genuine human emotions. We get some of that. It also wants to comment on friendship and its tenuous nature. We get that too. We ant to examine the desperation of a misanthrope, the broodiness of a vapid teen idol, and the power of strong character. We get all of that as well. We get too damn much. Is the film a farce? The slapstick would lead us to think so. But the revenge and anger is all too dark to keep it at farce levels. … It’s just a mess.

             DiCillo is usually a very solid stylist. His films “Box of Moonlight,” “Living in Oblivion,” and “The Real Blonde” all have very solid themes, and very clear thrusts. “Delirious” is just as the title implies, and that’s no good thing. Like I said, there are many good things in “Delirious” (Lohman is particularly good as the teen idol who says in the same breath “I’m working on my next single,” and “I wanna start a fragrance.”), so it’s comforting that Dicillo hasn’t flown totally off the rails. But he didn’t seem to have his heart in “Delirious.”

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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