Anyone with a soft spot for indie cinema (not studio indie cinema) has to appreciate what writer/director Tom DiCillo (Box of Moon Light, Living in Oblivion) attempts to create. His films generally don’t succeed 100 percent but they offer enough heart, smarts and laughs to make them a generally pleasing experience.
DiCillo’s new effort, Delirious, takes a stab at the world of celebrity and not that that hasn’t been done before but here is seeks to look at it from the bottom up. Here, the bottom comes in the form of the paparazzi and in particular, a small time New York City photog Les Galantine (Steve Buscemi). Buscemi fits the part like a lens fits snuggly into the camera body with his big mouth and big dreams but who lacks that big time shot which he refers to as, “The shot heard round the world.”
Galantine’s luck changes when he meets homeless kid Toby (Michael Pitt) with his bright lights, big city attitude. Galantine “hires” (more like an unpaid internship) Toby as an assistant. The two become friends and they catch a break when through the crazy music world Toby catches the eye of a beautiful pop diva K’Harma Leeds (Alison Lohman). Things spring up for the homeless kid with his new romance, not to mention his new starring role in a reality show part.
But faster than a new York minute comes the conflict where Toby must weigh his relationship with Les against his new fame and romance. Behind door number one sits his obligation to Les. Door number two would be Jacuzzi filled romance with K’Harma. Door number three offers a relationship with the sexy casting director Dana (Gina Gershon) who got him his reality part.
As Toby’s fame and fortune rise higher than then Manhattan skyline, Les becomes more bitter about his former protégé. His bitterness leads him to reach out to Toby and when that fails, to try more drastic measures of killing him.
DiCillo maintains a knack for creating a sense of parody mixed with the glory of celebrity. He infuses Delirious with absurd actions and comments of the media, agents and stars in the music and TV world. DiCillo illustrates the absurdity of being on the right list as well as showing how many gift bags can they scam from the parties. It’s DiCillo’s heart is in the right place mantra that keeps the film more interesting than not.
It’s not that the story of the ragged stud-muffin turned star who ends up with the pretty pop diva will win any awards for originality or even cause any surprise. The quirkiness of his charters keep DiCillo films alive. It’s no stretch to see some Ratso Rizzo and Midnight Cowboy in Les and Delirious. Curiously DiCillo mentioned during the 2007 San Francisco International Film Festival that he incorporated elements of Hard Day's Night with this film but it seems more difficult to pick up on many essentials from the frantic Richard Lester film.
Several things bring the film down like the sleeping with the casting director ploy that seems more of a convenience than anything else. And the almost sudden transformation of Les becoming a psycho creep fails to blend with the earlier parts. Sure he might have been a little slimy and jealous but does he need to release his frustration with a bullet?
It’s heard to hate this film even with its flaws, as DiCillo’s passion for indie film shows through. A kicking soundtrack, flowing cinematography and a cast that appeared to have fun with their roles make this worth investing a short 106 minutes.