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Samson & Delilah

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Not much happens in the movie, at least initially, which I suppose is entirely the point. When he’s not huffing gasoline, teenage Samson (Rowan McNamara) ambles about his surroundings — empty fridge, dirty water, hard floors, merciless sun — and listens to music and screws around in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, his sorta-kinda girlfriend, Delilah (Marissa Gibson), forced to act older than she is, cares for her ailing Nana (Mitjili Gibson).

Thirty-four minutes in, Samson decides he’s had enough, and his actions force his exit from the village; Delilah, cutting off her hair as if shedding her skin, accompanies him as they journey toward the big, bad city. Someone has to — Samson isn’t letting go of his ever-present, cut-in-half plastic bottle of fuel, whose fumes he constantly inhales to escape.

Writer/director Warwick Thornton brings more than a decade’s worth of documentary work to his feature debut, and it shows. The viewer is made to feel the despair and bleakness of his Aborigine characters’ have-nothing lives, and the leads’ inexperience at acting makes it seem all the more real.

I can’t say I enjoyed the picture, but pieces of it may haunt you long after the end.  —Rod Lott

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