Samson and Delilah (2009)

I know that release windows between theatrical release, video release and TV broadcast have been narrowing for years, but even so, a film showing on TV just six months after its cinema release is unusual. Then again, this isn’t any old film, this is the Most Hyped Local Product of the Year and, in the eyes of more than a few, the Best Australian Film Ever. So I finally decided I’d better watch it when it was on the other night, seeing how I missed the theatrical release… had it been overhyped? God yes. Was the hype well-meaning but powered by considerations of political correctness as much as anything? Probably. Was it still worth watching? I think so. Director Warwick Thornton’s experience as a cinematographer leads to some fine visuals, and the whole thing is told in an interesting manner like 60s/70 European art cinema; at times it’s like Antonioni gone bush or something. The much vaunted minimisation of dialogue works quite well, I like that the film doesn’t engage in hit-overhead didacticism, its points are more subtly made than that, and it’s interesting how the two kids wind up outsiders from their own community, let alone the whitefella’s world. It’s good. It’s just not as good as it’s been made out. I’ll be interested to see what Thornton does next.

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