This examiner will never understand the appeal to tabloid magazines. Catching candid pictures of celebrities doing mundane tasks is a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry, so all that matters is that plenty of people out there are dying to see J-Lo eat a pretzel. Cool? Celebrity, by definition, is glamorized by every medium there is. What if a story was more interested in the common man who makes a living photographing famous people? ‘Delirious’ turns the camera on these people.
Les (Steve Buscemi) is a struggling paparazzo who is good at what he does, but never really caught a break. Toby (Michael Pitt) is a homeless aspiring actor whose path crosses that of Les’. Les takes Toby under his wing and allows him to stay in his apartment. With this unpaid assistant, Les hopes to really be able to get ahead of his competition and to finally make something of himself.
The hottest singer in the city is a young woman who goes by K’harma (Alison Lohman), so she is an ideal target for photos. Les and Toby’s relationship is seriously tested when Toby falls in love with K’harma.
First off, bonus points for the different perspective. Nine times out of ten, the struggling little guy is more interesting than the vapid celebrity who is thrust into the limelight for one reason or another. It’s interesting to see an approximation of what lengths the paparazzi go to for pictures and what some of their lives are probably like. Additional bonus points for incorporating Elvis Costello.
Despite the fact that you probably have never heard of this film, it’s quite funny. It follows a well-worn blueprint of an unlikely friendship, a woman coming between them and resolution. That part isn’t so extraordinary. It’s not that the familiar structure is a bad thing, it’s a sturdy skeleton to hang a story on, but a few more chances in that regard could have made this story really stand out. There is one especially disorienting jump in the narrative about 2/3 of the way through the story that advances the plot, but with few explanations.
More than being funny, the film is a study in people who want more from their lives. It’s kind of sad, really. A lot of them are ambitious and trying to get out of their ruts, but some of the characters already have everything (by some definitions) but are unfulfilled by it. The whole story can be easily labeled a drama that is filled with off-the-wall situations and characters
Steve Buscemi was born to play a sleazy, underachieving, self-inflated paparazzo. He is fantastic here. Really, without his strong effort, the film probably would have collapsed in on itself. Pitt has never been accused of being overly emotive and this isn’t a game-changer. He competently plays an expressionless homeless young man who is completely out of his element in both the celebrity world and the real world. There isn’t really too much to the K’harma character. She is just a laughable pop star who is lost without her personal assistants (David Wain is one of them!). Gina Gershon is…there.
Special features include: just a trailer.
For such an under-publicized and really small-scale film, ‘Delirious’ deserved to have a wider viewership than it ever really got. The odds of it becoming a cult hit at this point are probably very low, especially considering that this was a Blockbuster Exclusive release. Still, you might find it in a bargain bin somewhere and it absolutely deserves a chance.
NR 107 minutes 2006
When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!