Most recent talks Film talks A-Z Before viewing talks Deep talks Sign up: email updates About the film talks Stay up on new talks Join the community
What's this site about? Inside out: Heart Inside out: Beauty Inside out: Love Thoughtful: a film's heart Thoughtful: film content Thoughtful: films to watch Who's behind this?
Register and login General PttH updates Film review sites Film site quick views Quotes The PttH seminar

Sympathy for Delicious (2010)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Sympathy for Delicious takes us on an unusual journey of the collision between a faithless faith-healer and a priest who has big visions for his work. From both sides, it explores how we can miss the gifts we’ve been given in our dead-ahead focus on what we want for the future. The film’s fantastical premise seemed to throw numerous reviewers, making them unable to connect the dots of the film’s exploration. I find that, in comments like “far-fetched,” “scattered,” and “tattered and flimsy,” they miss the central thread and the core mythology of an interesting, intriguing, and valuable film.

Dean, a turntable scratch artist known as Delicious D, was recently rendered a paraplegic. He’s living on skid-row, sleeping in his car, being fed by Father Joe’s skid-row soup kitchen. Willing to try anything, he goes to a faith-healing service, and is mistakenly pointed out as one to be healed. Soon after, he discovers that he himself has been given healing powers, although they don’t work to heal his own body. Dean struggles with his power, whether he wants it, and how to use it. Father Joe sets him to work healing for the homeless ministry, but conflict arises because neither Dean nor Father Joe have yet come to terms with his gift. Running time: 96 min.

The film’s tagline, “You get the healing you need,” is a good perspective for engaging with the film. A key question the film asks is this: What actually is the healing you need? We don’t often have to think about what we want, and for people whose belief system includes a higher power, prayers quickly turn to what we want — and for those whose beliefs don’t include a higher power, not getting what we want (or getting what we didn’t want) curiously seems to confirm our beliefs. And whether our not our faith commitments include a higher power, the want, the desire — what we will call a need whether it is nor not — can be consuming. What does that desire drive us to? What distortions does it create in our hearts and minds? Who will we use to get our desire? How does it cause us to lose some (or more) of our capacity to love, which is to say to lose a part of our humanity? These are the types of questions that Sympathy for Delicious explores.

On the whole, I find the filmcraft to be very good (again at odds with numerous reviewers). As Dean, Christopher Thornton’s acting is excellent — the seed idea for the screenplay came from his own experience in being rendered paraplegic by a fall, so he has a strong foundation for authenticity in the role. Mark Ruffalo’s Father Joe is also excellent. Orlando Bloom’s character may be a bit over the top, but then he’s really a mythical stand-in for the ethos of a life centered on sex, drugs, fame, and rock & roll. Which leads to the screenplay itself: There are a few quick turns and shifts that the film leaves unexplained, but I find them to actually work if you put a bit of thought into the characters’ issues — not to mention being the sort of unanswered questions that a good film leaves open to draw in engaged viewers.

I find Sympathy for Delicious to be well worth the time — so long as you are ready to engage with the characters and ask questions about why they are doing what they’re doing (which I think is just good moviegoing). Otherwise the film may show you some intriguing stuff but in the end lose you the way it did many of the reviewers.

The film has a fair bit of language and a couple of quick-passing, passive scenes of topless female nudity. There is not much in the way of violence, but there are a couple of scenes of someone intentionally, with some cruelty, injuring another.

  • Director: Mark Ruffalo
  • Screenplay: Christopher Thornton
  • Leads: Christopher Thornton, Mark Ruffalo, Orlando Bloom, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney
  • Cinematography: Chris Norr


NOTE: Although Before viewing talks don't have spoilers, comments below MAY have spoilers
(spoilers are allowed in comments when a Before viewing talk does not have a corresponding After viewing talk for discussing the film)

Post a Comment

NOTE: It is okay to have spoilers in comments on Quick talks, but please do warn folks with "** SPOILERS **" or some such.

You must be registered (it's easy) and logged in to post a comment. Why?