Sympathy for Delicious
Director: Mark Ruffalo
Writer: Christopher Thornton
Cast: Christopher Thornton, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, Orlando Bloom, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo
Dean (Christopher Thornton) used to be a successful DJ until an accident puts him in a wheelchair permanently. Now Dean is homeless, mostly depressed and it is made impossible for him to work. But then two things happen that change Dean’s life from one day to the next: One, Ariel (Juliette Lewis) asks Dean to work with her band, led by eccentric The Stain (Orlando Bloom), And two, after being introduced to the world of faith healing by Father Joe (Mark Ruffalo), Dean discover that he actually has the power to heal people – everyone but himself.
Sympathy for Delicious consists of many good parts, but it lacks a bit of adhesive between those parts. Nevertheless it is a very nice watch.
There are many things to love about the film. On a purely meta level, it is awesome that we get a disabled protagonist, the actor is also actually disabled and the film is not about how the disability affects his life and how he can overcome all obstacles regardless, but about a journey of moral self-discovery. It’s not that the disability is ignored or that it isn’t part of that journey, it’s just not left, right and center of it.
On a more immediate cinematic level, I really loved how the faith healing idea is worked with and the direction the film takes. And the performances were just wonderful. Thornton himself has a bitter intensity that draws your gaze. Juliette Lewis does her usual and wonderful crazy rocker thing, and Orlando Bloom is so completely out there, it is nothing but fun to watch him. Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo provide the kind of adult counterweight to them.
There is also an almost cheeky (if in a dark way) sense of humor to the film that kept surprising me because the story feels more dramatic. In any case, I liked that mix, even if not all jokes worked for me.
But despite the many things about the film that do work, I kept missing something that really ties it all together and that makes the film more than just an additive sequence of scenes. That lack also made it feel a little longer than it actually was. But since we’re talking about both a first-time writer and a first-time director, that is a flaw easily forgiven.
Summarizing: Worth a watch.