SAMSON AND DELILAH (15) **** DIRECTED BY: WARWICK THORNTON STARRING: ROWAN McNAMARA, MARISSA GIBSON, SCOTT THORNTON, MITJILI NAPANANGKA GIBSON
NOT TO be confused with the Biblical story of the same name (though hair cutting does feature), Samson and Delilah offers up an insightful look at contemporary aboriginal life by examining the plight of two indigenous Australian teens (Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson) as they run away from the difficult conditions of their isolated Outback community to the still perilous environs of nearby Alice Springs.
Political tubthumping, however, is mercifully absent; instead, debut director Warwick Thornton (who won the Camera d'Or at Cannes last year) chooses to weave his critiques of Aboriginal cultural intransigence and Western exploitation into the fabric of a tentative and tender love story that unfurls between the titular troubled teens in near silence – the latter a creative decision designed to reflect the universal inarticulacy of kids around the opposite sex as much as to reinforce the stunning, poetic visuals.
First-timers McNamara and Gibson deliver instinctive, assured performances. Through meaningful glances and awkward body language they – and the film – clue us into the complex emotions of a neglected, dislocated generation torn between two worlds, neither of which seem particularly welcoming of them.