Maya Entertainment // 2011 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Alice Nelson // August 29th, 2011
"You can't always get what you want
but if you try sometimes
you just might find
you get what you need."
-- The Rolling Stones
We've all seen the guys and gals on TV in the expensive outfits, with perfectly coiffed hair and blindingly white teeth, bibles raised in the air telling the gullible that they have the gift of healing. There should be a special place in hell for those charlatans -- but what if someone really had the ability to heal? Would a skeptical public buy it? More importantly, how would someone given such a great responsibility handle the task?
Theater actor Christopher Thornton (Welcome to California), wrote and starred in Sympathy for Delicious, a story about Delicious Dean O'Dwyer who was once an up and coming turntableist, whose music career took a dive after an accident left him confined to a wheelchair. Now living in his car on Skid Row, D, as he's known, realizes that he has the unique ability to lay his hands on people and cure them of their infirmities. With the encouragement of Father Joe -- played by the film's director Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island) -- who works at the shelter on The Row, D begins to heal the people of that community. But he wants to be more than just a vessel for healing others; D wants to be able to restore the use of his own legs. However, when those prayers aren't answered in the way that he wants, D runs away with a rock band, where he becomes the groups sideshow freak healer; because as you well know, every rock and roll show needs a faith healer.
"God cares for your soul and what you want may not be good for your soul." And what Dean 'D' O'Dwyer wants is to walk again. If you've ever spent any time in church you've heard that God gives us what we need, not what we want, but how does that play with someone who thinks God is full of crap? For D, it makes him angry towards God, the people who want to be healed by him and at the pointlessness that he sees as his life. Sympathy for Delicious isn't a religious message movie but it does touch upon the mysteries of why God does what He does. D can't fathom why God would give him the gift to heal others and not himself and he's fighting Him every step of the way. So much so that he doesn't want to heal for free any longer, if he's going to have this 'gift' than he's going to make money doing it. He has an opportunity to do just that when he meets the bass player for an avante garde band called 'Burnt the Dipthong' -- nice name huh? Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) portrays that bass player named Ariel, a drug addled young lady who sees D spin his turn tables on an open mic night and immediately wants him in her group. When she and lead singer 'The Stain' (Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; looking very un-Orlando like with his long oily hair and dark eyeliner) see D use his healing powers in a fit of anger after he's fired by the band, they immediately re-hire him, sensing that he can propel their fledgling group to the heights of fame. So the group and D use each other for their own personal gain.
Then there's Father Joe (Ruffalo), he and D develop a friendship of mutual trust, but Father Joe also sees a gold mine of sorts in his homeless friend. Father Joe's a bit more altruistic in his desires to use D but he uses him nonetheless to get bigger and better donations for the shelter. Joe of course doesn't see himself taking advantage, but he presses the man to 'heal' on demand and that strains the friendship, which sends D into the hands of Burnt the Dipthong and their sleazy manager Nina Hogue (Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me), another person looking to benefit from D's healing prowess. It isn't until D reaches rock bottom and realizes that he had been something of a jerk all along using his 'gift' in such a selfish manner. Then he does something so utterly selfless it softens a heart that had been hardened for years and helps D reach a place of peacefulness with the God he felt abandoned him long ago. I enjoyed the journey this film took and appreciated the fact that Sympathy wasn't hostile towards Christianity, setting up straw men to knock down, which is a trap that most Hollywood movies fall into these days.
Sympathy was shot in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and the audio is Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras include a featurette with writer Thornton and director Ruffalo explaining the process it took to get this movie made.
Sympathy for Delicious was inspired by Thornton's own personal experience at the age of 25, when a rock climbing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He wrote a gripping story about a young man who just wanted his old life back and pleaded with God whom he thought never heard his cries for help. Even though there are big stars like Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney, and Julliette Lewis in the film, they are over shadowed by Thornton's intense portrayal of D, done with the fervor of someone who could relate to the characters' desperation. It's always dicey when Christianity is dealt with in a movie; either Christians are offended or Atheists are enraged. Thornton and Ruffalo handled the delicate subject with a deftness that simply laid out a probability and let the viewer decide for themselves what to take away from it. Did God give D the gift to heal or was it some freak occurrence? I say only God has the ability to heal and he gave it to D to show him what he truly needed. You may not agree and that's fine; either way this film is an honest look at what someone might do with an incredible gift, and makes us think about what our own actions would be under the same circumstances.
Review content copyright © 2011 Alice Nelson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Maya Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site