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I was able to attend the premier at Sundance this year, and let me
begin by saying, this movie riveted my senses. With strong performances
by the cast, especially writer and star Christopher Thornton, the movie
worked it's magic. I sat in awe near the front row, as Mark Ruffalo,
the director, got on stage before the film began and gave a brilliant
opening speech. Then the room grew dark and the movie started.
I'm writing this from the New Frontier located on main street, Park City. Two hours after the film ended, and yet i still find it hard to clear my mind of "Sympathy for Delicious." After the film finished and the audience gave a standing ovation, Mark, Christopher, and a large portion of the crew, climbed on stage to answer our questions.
Among the many questions answered, was the story of how it all began. Mark began by saying how he had been best friends with Christopher for the past twenty years, how they had studied together as actors in New York, and about Christopher's tragic accident seventeen years ago that rendered him a cripple. Then Christopher took the mike and told us of Mark's pressuring him into writing a movie based on his own character and experiences. This began a ten year trek to getting the film made. The numerous rewrites and financial difficulties it went through were astounding, yet they persevered and finally succeeded in making a masterpiece.
If you haven't yet viewed this movie you're missing out on something great. Not only does it supply emotionally gripping characters but also a wholly original script. And let's not forget Mark's directing, which in itself is a powerful debut.
==Urgent update Jan 6, 2014. I just saw copies of this movie, brand
new, for sale at the Dollar Store. Yes $1! Don't even finish reading
this review, just go buy this movie. OK, back to the original review==
I thank my lucky stars I didn't see the trailer beforehand because it would've ruined the beauty of watching this creative story unfold. If you've already seen the trailer, do your best to rinse it out of your skull (it's not exactly accurate anyway).
Rather than tell you about the plot, I'm going to tell you some behind-the-scenes info which should enhance your enjoyment. "Sympathy for Delicious" took 10 years to make. It was written by its lead actor Christopher Thornton who, like the character he plays, is paralyzed from the waist down in real life due to an accident. So the passion he delivers on screen is 100% genuine, and that's why this film works. Nothing is contrived. Even the story, surreal as it is, comes directly from the heart of a man who has been through the ordeal.
His counterpart is played by director Mark Ruffalo, Thornton's longtime friend in real life. The dynamic is stellar. On screen as well as in real life, they share a sort of sibling love-hate relationship. This makes their dramatic scenes 100% authentic. When the characters get into arguments, you can feel that they've left the script behind and are emoting straight from the heart. Not since F. Murray Abraham's performance in "Amadeus" have I seen such raw, honest passion.
The film touches heavily on themes of religion, but it is neither preachy nor bashy. Devout Christians as well as Atheists should enjoy this movie just the same. Thornton plays a faithless character with a lot of understandable resentment toward God (again bringing to mind the excellent film "Amadeus"). Ruffalo plays a Catholic priest who himself has profound issues. Though polar opposites, the 2 characters are oddly parallel.
What makes this film jaw-dropping is the way the story weaves a clever parable of "the rock star & the priest". After you see the film maybe you'll agree that it's a very fitting analogy.
Juliette Lewis is perfect in her role, and her scenes with Thornton are at times funny, at times sentimental, at times powerful, and each time memorable. Orlando Bloom, though prominently featured in the promos for this film, plays a somewhat minor role. But he's still larger than life every time he graces the screen. As far as acting goes, we get Oscar-worthy performances all around.
This is not your average rock'n'roll film; it's much more. It packs a lot of philosophy and requires your full attention, so be sure to watch it with a clear head. It's so original I can't think of many films to compare it to. But it reminds me of the excellent film "Into Temptation" (about a priest who's trying to stop a prostitute's suicide) and the Mexican masterpiece "Piedras Verdes" (about a girl on a soul-searching journey thru the desert). It touches on some of the same profound themes found in "Amadeus" and "The Green Mile".
I give this film 9 stars which is about the highest I ever give a film. Honourable mention for the first & only time I've heard the line "I'LL SEE YOU IN HELL" used effectively (apologies to Arnold Schwarzenegger)!
I saw a screening of this movie at Sundance 2010. I was very impressed
with Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut. I told him afterward that it
seemed effortless. He laughed and said it was anything but.
Sometimes with first-time directors (though he's had some TV directing experience), there are jarring points that make you realize you're watching a debut. But there were no such moments for me with this movie.
Christopher Thornton, who also wrote the script, was great. He explained after the screening that he developed this with Ruffalo after Thornton complained that there are no good roles for paraplegics.
Though I was told beforehand to expect a dark film, it really has more moments of levity, which Ruffalo said was intentional.
It's a film worth seeing!
SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS is well worth watching in theaters, on demand
for television, or DVD. Though the film is out and available at
present, this ad for a movie poster is the only opportunity to attract
attention to an excellent movie and encourage people to watch for it.
The story addresses several tough issues - the plight of the homeless
on skid row, the lack of support for disabled persons, the arena of
faith healing, and the at times crumbling dreams and realities of rock
bands. The film was written by Christopher Thornton who suffered spinal
cord injury in 1992 resulting in his being a paraplegic confined to a
wheelchair: he has over come his disability by becoming a much lauded
stage actor (the first to play Hamlet in a wheelchair, etc): Thornton
also stars in this film and his performance introduces an actor of
exceptional virtuosity. Mark Ruffalo directs his first film and also
stars as one of the lead characters.
'Delicious' Dean O'Dwyer (Christopher Thornton) is a DJ on the rise in Los Angeles whose career is devastated by a motorcycle accident leaving him confined to a wheelchair, living in a car on skid row. He is part of the people cared for by Father Joe Roselli (Mark Ruffalo) who recognizes a life worth saving and turns his attention to Dean, attempting to restore his ability to walk by taking him to a faith healing revival lead by Healer (John Carroll Lynch). Though Dean is not healed himself he does happen to touch one of his fellow skid row dwellers who is subsequently miraculously healed. One of Dean's friends, Rene (Noah Emmerich) discovers Dean's powers and pleads with him to heal fellow paraplegic Rene. Dean does not believe in his power of faith healing (he is frustrated that he cannot heal himself!) and continues to search for a place where he can return to being a performing DJ.
Dean meets bass player Ariel Lee (Juliette Lewis, in a stunning star turn) who is convinced Dean should join a forming band composed of The Stain (Orlando Bloom), Ariel, and Oogie (Dov Tiefenbach). While the rasty band recognizes Dean's talent as a possible addition to the band, the band's PR person Nina Hogue (Laura Linney) will have none of it. it is only when Dean's healing powers surface that the band - and Nina - want him to give them an image that will make them famous. Dean is discouraged by Father Joe, pleading with him to remain at skid row performing his healing so that Father Joe will increase donations to his charity care house. Conflicts arise, incidents occur with the band and at skid row and Dean's place in all of this new fame is altered: money seems to be the driver that destroys many people and gets in the way of the true value of Dean's healing gift.
The film is strong on many levels - especially the acting (except for Orlando Bloom who overwhelms the story in the wrong way) - and as a first film to be directed by the very gifted Mark Ruffalo it holds promise of works to come. Christopher Thornton is not only a fine writer and actor, but his screen presence i so powerful that it is likely he will become as major a star on film as he is on stage.
Wow, I was blown away watching the directorial debut by Mark Ruffalo,
written by and starring Christopher Thornton, in a role that will
definitely land him some Oscar recognition. I walked into the movie not
really knowing what to expect, but was immediately thrown into a
dramatic and intense depiction of the life of a young man who is both
disabled and disgruntled at life, and the many trials and tests he goes
through on the road down to hell and then redemption.
Mark Ruffalo also acts as a priest who tries to help Thornton (Delicious) but can only do so much. The movie steers you in a direction you would never guess, and leaves you breathless and fully satisfied.
Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom, and Laura Linney are some of the supporting cast who all do well in their respective roles, but Thornton is the one who really takes the cake, and Mark Ruffalo directs himself to perfection.
I can not recommend this movie enough, I don't know when or if ever it will get a cinematic release, but keep your eye on this title and make sure not to miss it when it does come out.
The title makes no sense unless you know the main character's DJ name
is "Delicious D". With this, there should be little confusion as one
watches Sympathy. Sympathy for Delicious is well-respected actor, Mark
Ruffalo's (The Kids Are All Right, Zodiac, Shutter Island) directorial
debut and it was penned by one of his long-time friends who happens to
play D (Christopher Thornton, a paraplegic who wrote the screenplay
because of the lack of roles available to him in Hollywood).
D was an up-and-coming music DJ in the rock world of SoCal until he is injured and finds himself confined to a wheelchair ... the story begins after this has happened and we find D living out of his car on Skid Row where he comes to the attention of a local priest played by Ruffalo. After a chance encounter with a fellow homeless man suffering from both gout and Alzheimer's, D finds out he has been given a Divine gift and can miraculously heal others (but alas ... he is unable to heal himself).
Upon this discovery, the priest briefly puts Delicious to work doing God's will ... until D gets it into his head that he should be making TONS of money for healing others and so he makes a name for himself with the help of an odd rock band that decides to cash-in on his abilities. Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings, Elizabethtown, Haven) and Juliette Lewis (Conviction, Cape Fear, Strange Days) play fellow band mates while Laura Linney (The Truman Show, Kinsey, You Can Count on Me) co-stars as their icy and conniving manager who readily admits to exploiting their Divine find. By making such a public, high-profile spectacle of himself and telling everyone he's only doing everything for $$$ ... D opens himself up to all kinds of scrutiny (and he isn't up to the task of taking it all in). It doesn't help that his lone friend in the band, Lewis, sees him as a sell-out which causes things to spiral out of control. And, well, BAD things happen ...
I didn't believe much of what unfolds on screen (I allowed myself to buy into this premise ... but come on) which makes THIS story that much harder to accept. My primary problem: if there are some major stretches taken early-on, why is there no leeway later in the film when the "stretching" should still be allowed?! Sympathy wanted to "have it both ways" for dramatic effect which is simply the error(s) of screen writing 101 I am sure.
This is a VERY difficult story to make humorous (the film is classified a "comedy" on IMDb). I viewed it as much more of a tragedy as it is a film about some VERY lost individuals; but I am sure some might find it funny/hilarious (I didn't ... laughing at an actress pretending to have cerebral palsy isn't laugh-out-loud funny). Sympathy for Delicious has some good moments and it is a promising debut from a new director; but the subject matter is simply too tricky. Had it presented/sold itself differently from the outset, I might have viewed it differently ... but there is a bit too much ultimate trite-ness here for me to appreciate (not to mention D isn't very LIKE-able -- which, in turn, makes the film difficult to like as well).
If you like feeling comfortable while watching a movie, this isn't it. This movie has real feelings and will make you confront those weird feelings about things you may be uncomfortable with in your life. The movie has a real view of bitterness a man can feel from the unfortunate turns of life. It shows how a man, so distraught from losing all of the things that determine his self-worth. Totally lost in bitterness this is his driving force even when the biggest blessing in the world to heal others is given to him. It is NOT what he wants, not what he has prayed for when he seldom prays. Everything is tilted, with strings attached to him, and still very unfair. But, the truth of what he can really be, not what he wants to be, is the whole essence of this film. His journey is not unlike anyone in real life. That, is what makes it uncomfortable, it makes us ask ourselves about our own unfortunate events and how they too have stripped us of our own self worth. So, if you watch the movie in that frame of mind, you can enjoy it. You can relate to the raw feelings of the main character. And if your lucky you can actually finish watching this movie with a feeling, I can do better, I can make something better of myself. Congratulations to Mr. Ruffalo in his directorial debut. It is fantastic!
Mark Ruffalo's directional debut seemed good enough for me. Of course this movie doesn't pretend to be an extra-realistic, serious drama with a deep-deep context, despite of it the movie is full of the important ideas and real-life dilemmas. Personally I considered Ruffalo's work as an entire metaphor about individual choices, forming our lives, we make every time, the ability and power to believe. about arisen greed and envy that both anyway crash the way based on the right decision. Dj's gift and miracles come into his life are challenging him, pushing on his all weak sides, but made him review his life entirely. The main two characters - neither priest nor ex-DJ are categorical ones, both being complicated persons. The end also has symbolical shape with a note for the best, however being not happy. The only film's demerits i saw were about events, moving too fast, and the image of the gift had been shown in a too much expressional way. But otherwise "Sympathy for Delicious" is an interesting movie to see and it gives some stuff you can think about after viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Of the 11 films and doc's I viewed, Sympathy for Delicious was my
absolute favorite. Mark and Chris did a fantastic job writing, acting
and directing. Their personal passion and painful experiences propelled
the film and gave it an intense and awarding message of restoration and
hope, one could not ask for more. I encourage everyone to view the
Sundance trailer to hear Mark and Chris discuss their endeavors of this
film, watch their camaraderie and have a glimpse of how precious they
are (I think they are beautiful people; if you get a chance to hear
them speak do so). The idea of a paralyzed man being able to heal
everyone except himself is unique and intriguing. The trial scene was
brilliant giving the audience an extra twist. Im not sure if Mark and
Chris purposed any of the following ideas: 1) consequences come to
those who grossly misuse their God-given gift 2)the grace that
blanketed D during his "rebellious" and hateful actions 3)
hardship/consequences help one to wake up to reality 4)blessings follow
an unselfish giver.
Great movie!! FYI...Breasts and cursing are in film so children should probably not watch.
Dean "Delicious D" O'Dwyer (Christopher Thornton) is a bitter paralyzed
DJ who lives on L.A. skid row. Ariel Lee (Juliette Lewis) tries to get
him to play in her band led by singer The Stain (Orlando Bloom). Nina
Hogue (Laura Linney) is their sleazy manager. Father Joe Roselli (Mark
Ruffalo) helps the homeless and tries to help Dean. When Dean discovers
his power to cure, Father Joe pays him to cure the people at his
mission. It quickly gets out of hand. A man offers to pay the mission
$250k to cure his daughter. Dean is infuriated and wants to be paid
himself as part of the band's show.
Ruffalo's directing is a bit chaotic. On the other hand, his acting is great and I love his work during the chaos of the healing mission. Orlando Bloom as the lead singer don't feel right. Juliette Lewis has the right feel. Christopher Thornton is not a normal lead actor but he fits this bitter character. It's an interesting idea and I like this movie until the trial. It changes the movie in a wrong direction just as it starts to pick up speed with a vibrant pumping energy.
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