Samson and Delilah makes Adam’s brain go walkabout

I am just going to come out with it: I didn’t like this film. I understand its cultural significance and I understand it exposes people to the harrowing decline of Australia’s young indigenous population, I just don’t understand why it had to be so boring.  This is not a criticism of the subject matter: it is a criticism of the filmmaking.

So what didn’t I like? The two leads of this film speak less than five words between them. Each shot drags on or is needlessly repeated. I imagine that the script in its written form would be around fifteen pages long: that how little happens in Samson and Delilah. I have to put my criticisms into context: I don’t need every film to be breathlessly paced and I don’t need endless slogs of exposition to get a film. I love Terrance Malick’s films (The New World, the Thin Red Line); I love his long lingering shots and they way he tells his stories visually. To me his films are poetry. Samson and Delilah  Director Warwick Thornton’s artistic choices alienated me as viewer and made me pray for the end.

The X-Men even had an Australian branch.

The Plot of this film is incredibly naturalistic and unfortunately (in my opinion) threadbare. Samson, a fourteen-year-old aboriginal boy lives in an isolated community and passes his days by sniffing petrol. Samson takes a liking to another fourteen-year-old, a girl named Delilah. Delilah spurns his advances and a strange relationship develops.

For people blissfully unaware of the problems engulfing aboriginal communities this film could be quite illuminating, even forcing people to change their perceptions. This is something I applaud. But for people already aware and sympathetic to the plight of Australia’s indigenous population, they are forced to judge the film on an artistic level. For me, this is where Samson and Delilah falls flat.

Samson and Delilah has won numerous awards and has been labelled one of Australia’s greatest films, for me that accolade should be placed on films you wish to revisit time and time again. Unfortunately, I doubt I will choose to see Samson and Delilah for a second time.

Two Stars

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