The grim, uncertain world of adolescencewritten by juniacke on Oct 17th, 2010read all my reviews
this review is from: Samson & Delilah (DVD)
The villain in Warwick Thornton’s Samson And Delilah is not the larger white culture, whose ostensible indifference every filmgoer will recognize for their own shrugging off of panhandlers, nor is it the youthful squander of long nights spent indulging in huffing chemicals and rolling one’s head back to listen to popular music from the car radio. The seemingly universal teen time wasters of experimenting with whatever is on hand, be it radio stations or gasoline fumes, are the stuff of perpetual adolescence, both privileged and poverty stricken, not the drug of choice of hardened addicts. If there is a villain in a film replete with random sexual violence and a thick undercurrent of racism it is that the ever present threat of the bleak nothing will go on forever. Not simply a spiral of bad to worse, the events in Thorton’s nearly dialogue void world are caked with the dirt of a road wandered from nowhere to even more nothing. The obstacles are harsh, some sudden, but none that offer life lessons or even an ounce of scolding, at either us or the unfortunate characters, offering instead an odds-against-them story of two people just trying to find a place of their own.
What could be mislabeled young love in a romantically angled film, the shifting dependency is not so much coming of age but of terms in a world that will not be offering anything consistently. Be it a helping hand or hard knocks. Set against the dust and sunshine of Australia, the story of native teens kicking around feels both common and foreign in its complication of identity. The barrenness of the backdrop, the shacks of the country and the clean fluorescence of modern, white Australia provide stark environments for the teens to wander through. Although the struggle between true and accepted Australian identity may be a subject foreign to most in this country, the assimilation of any individual, be it unanchored youth or disenfranchised minority is a subject that both evokes sympathy but also a too familiar societal shrug for the grim prospects of two individuals inclined to find no real place.
The film is grim, almost mercilessly bleak, as is that age when one can do nothing but hope things get better; filling time with destructive pastimes and stumbling attempts at reaching out for love, acceptance and help. There doesn’t need to be a villain in a world so uninviting and full of obstacle and as the film closes at least on the possible nod toward safety, there is a relief that even if things are never all together perfect they are at least sometimes just enough.