Peace Arch Entertainment // 2007 // 107 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // May 6th, 2008
Everybody deserves their shot.
A rags and riches fable by Tom DiCillo, Delirious certainly lives up to its title, delivering a hysterical look at a friendship threatened by the desire to achieve fame. The film premiered at the 2007 edition of the Sundance Film Festival and won the AFI Filmmaker Award for best director at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
Steve Buscemi stars as Les Galantine, an eager paparazzo who likes to refer to himself as a licensed professional. Les lives in a crappy New York apartment and spends most of his time looking for a celebrity to capture with his camera, but what Les is really after is that one shot that will catapult him to fame. Everything in his life changes when he meets and befriends Toby Grace (Michael Pitt), a young drifter whose greatest dream is to become a famous actor. But when Toby falls for a popular singer (Alison Lohman) and gets offered the lead in a new reality TV series, Les cannot help but to let his jealousy impair his reason.
Delirious may have had a short theatrical run last year, but the film is definitely a winner. Fans of solid independent filmmaking should rejoice, because Tom DiCillo's satire about fame packs enough laughs and a heartwarming story to keep viewers captivated for 107 minutes. The flick pokes fun at everything and everyone surrounding the excessive popularity of hyperactive pop stars and breakthrough actors, including the eager paparazzi who spend most of their time waiting for that one great snapshot. Besides arguing that freelance photographers or ordinary people are basically equal to the big stars, the film also comments on the ridiculousness of reality television and offers a brief insight into the troubled life of a sexy singer struggling to find true love. This may sound like an awful lot to cover during a little less than two hours, but DiCillo does a fine job at combining all of his commentaries and themes into a pleasurable, highly entertaining comedy.
For the most part, however, Delirious is not what you'd expect it to be. As I previously mentioned, we do get enough satirical comments about the madness that comes with sudden fame, but in essence the movie has more substance and heart than that. The main focus really is put on the turbulent and fairly flawed friendship between Les and Toby, both eccentric characters who get off the wrong foot but pull themselves together, only to end up risking everything they learned from each other for the one thing they desire most. At the beginning of the film, nobody could ever imagine Les would actually be able to like Toby. As the story progresses, however, Toby's sudden rise to fame makes Les feel he's been betrayed. It's here that the film digs deepest into the minds of its main characters, exploring carefully what their friendship is all about and what may cause it to collapse. DiCillo delivers a solid script with weird but overall likeable characters that start off acting jerky before realizing they can all teach each other a few valuable lessons.
Although Delirious is a fair mixture of drama and comedy, I laughed a lot. It's one of those films that don't serve you the jokes on a silver platter. Instead, it's the whole atmosphere surrounding the plot that is humorous and highly innovative, with the cast laying the foundation for all the fun. I have to admit Steve Buscemi is not exactly the kind of actor you get to enjoy in many lead roles, and that's a real shame. Here he proves yet again he's fit for anything when it comes to acting, and his portrayal of Les Galantine is brilliant. He plays this character with tons of charm and incredible finesse, which pretty much explains why he easily carries the entire film on his shoulders. If it weren't for him I doubt the flick would work as well. I was equally surprised by Michael Pitt's delicious performance as the bum who achieves stardom overnight. He's the perfect onscreen partner for Buscemi, and watching them together onscreen couldn't be more hilarious. Alison Lohman adds enough spice to the cast in the role of pop singer K'Harma, and Gina Gershon should make every male viewer's heart beat a little faster.
The film was produced on a low budget, but DiCillo and his crew gave the film a clean look. The audio transfer is perfect as well, and the dominating dialogue is clearly understandable throughout.
The bonus material on the disc includes an unconventional 14-minute behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "Stalking Delirious," in which director Tom DiCillo and Steve Buscemi walk around New York discussing some of the film's essential aspects. It's a little short and doesn't include any footage from the set, but DiCillo and Buscemi address some interesting issues that make this piece worth watching. "Promotional Shorts" is a series of goofy clips that are also available on the film's official Web site. Although these skits are not directly related to the content of the feature film, they sure provoke some good laughs. In the first one, DiCillo struggles to gather some money for the film's promotional campaign during a meeting with his marketing firm. The remaining two clips show DiCillo having a little fun with Buscemi and actress Gina Gershon.
Besides a theatrical trailer and the full version of the music video "Shove It" by Alison Lohman, the special features also include an entertaining, insightful feature commentary with Tom DiCillo. If you adored this film and would like to know more about its production process, I highly recommend listening to the commentary, because DiCillo speaks about a horde of interesting topics related to the film's budget, principal photography, the script and the cast. In a clear and calm manner that's easy to follow, he talks about how much he struggled to get the film financed, what he likes best of the central themes, and how and why he chose certain locations and objects. It's definitely a great treat for film buffs and fans of the movie.
Kudos to DiCillo for creating a subtle comedy that's not too obvious and successfully escapes predictability and repetition. Delirious is a lot of fun. If you're an indie enthusiast, give it a shot. No, seriously!
Review content copyright © 2008 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Peace Arch Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's Commentary
* "Stalking Delirious"
* Promotional Shorts
* Music Video: "Shove It"
* Theatrical Trailer
* Official Site