Samson and Delilah - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Samson and Delilah Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 30, 2010
A beautiful and delicate portrait of a brutal reality that is so little known to non-Australians, reaching us through an Aboriginal love story that relies on two amazing performances and smoothly moving from tender to heartbreaking moments.
Super Reviewer
½ May 10, 2010
Warwick Thornton's astounding, gruelling and rewarding movie - which he shot, as well as wrote and directed - puts us in the place of Australia's most dispossessed and forgotten people.
Samson and Delilah is hard viewing and unsparing almost to the last. Even then the redemption it offers is perhaps ephemeral. But this wrenching film is also a tender, realistic love story and a lyrical piece of visual art. It unfolds mostly without dialogue, depending on the remarkable natural expressiveness of its untrained leads Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, whose relationship play out as childish love-hate flirtation before they cling together in desperation and finally sink into the miasma of fumes that seems to offer escape from violence, homelessness and the sheer loneliness of being two lost kids on the face of a parched, uncaring planet.
Super Reviewer
½ June 7, 2009
Probably one of the best Australian film ever, certainly one of its most powerful, dealing with the nation's elephant in the room, the indigenous Australians. A harrowingly confronting film about youth, indigenous culture, disadvantage and poverty ultimately turns into a subtle but extremely moving love story. A quietly beautiful film that gets under your skin and shakes you too your core. Particularly powerful from an Australian perspective the film looks hard at a shameful fact of Australian society, without moralizing or pointing blame, the film transcends the subject matter and creates a powerful love story. But be prepared for its slow style and its ability to emotionally drain you.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2012
There is little for Samson(Rowan McNamara) to do during the day, except listen to his brother's band practice. One day, he catches sight of Delilah(Marissa Gibson) who spends her days working on native artwork with her grandmother(Mitjili Gibson) that they sell and taking her to the local clinic for regular visits. She takes pity on him and buys him a snack at the store. In return, he kills a kangaroo and brings it back to her place to eat for dinner.(Oh, but it's so cute!) He then brings his bedroll over to stay. All of which the old woman finds amusing.

Even with mild reservations about the ending, "Samson and Delilah" is a well-filmed and heartbreaking love story that also has much to say about the tragic state of the Aboriginal population in Australia, living lives of frustration with little opportunity at a better life.(To make matters worse, the only radio station they can get in their outback village is country western.) Thankfully, none of this is presented in a strident manner, as the arguments are presented subtly with little dialogue, almost as if their language, along with their culture, had been appropriated by the Europeans which finds them largely invisible.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2010
Drama by Warwick Thornton, Aboriginal writer and director about two Aboriginal teenagers trying to find a life amidst limited options, prejudice, brutality and misfortune.
An unsentimental love story that's not at all dull and worthy like it sounds, largely due to the thin thread of optimism running through it and the lively, realistic acting of the two leads. Even if some of the plot and symbolism are a little heavy handed, it still feels you've been shown the truth.

Super Reviewer
May 20, 2009
This is a highly realistic story of two Australian Aboriginal teen-agers, Samson and Delilah.

Filmed in Alice Springs, Warwick Thornton has drawn on personal experiences to create what is essentially a love story. Picturesque sunsets across wild plains and deserts are contrasted with the ugly reality that is true for so many indigenous communities across Australia. Through Thornton's film, the audience is brought to a sympathetic view of the problems of physical abuse, substance abuse and poverty that attack the indigenous way of life by trying to modernise it.

Adding to the film's authenticity, Thornton has developed the story using very little dialogue. Neither Samson and Delilah say one single word to each other throughout the 101 minutes of the film, and yet both Rowan Mcnamara (Samson) and Marissa Gibson (Delilah) show exceptional performances, given that they are untrained, raw talent.

Surprisingly, the story lies in its reference to the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah, connecting a loss of strength with loss of hair. Yes, this is not an easy film to watch, yet this truly memorable film is unexpectedly comical, dramatic, romantic, and most of all, hope-inspiring.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2009
This astonishing, unworldly and brutally straightforward film has the capacity to challenge and change perceptions of what an Australian film can be.
February 14, 2010
This sterling 2009 debut by Warwick Thornton is harrowing and tragic but has a stoic, stately realism that elevates the material way above victim politics.
½ January 18, 2011
I've never loved a movie so much that had so little dialog, yet the story told here is more moving than words could convey. Rowan McNamara as Samson and Marissa Gibson as Delilah have been thrown away by everyone, even their own society. And as European descendants everywhere are wont to do, the wealthier Australians shun them, avoiding eye contact and shooing them out of 'white only' places. Delilah attempts to sell an Aboriginal painting that she's learned from her grandmother, a woman whose work she has found at a local gallery selling for $22,000 Australian, but for which the dealer paid her a paltry $200. The dealer glanced at Delilah and declined to buy her painting, but you could see the reason writ clearly on his face - "I don't deal directly with the Untouchables".
This story could be our American own, swapping African Americans or Native Americans for Aborigines. You want to reach out to Samson and Delilah, to feed them, clothe them, help them, or just to hear them speak. Their silence poses more profundity than their plaints, and those are rare and few.
This is a heartbreaking tale because we know it too well, we Euro-trash progeny. We know it because we're guilty of it. We know it because we feel the guilt in our bones. We know it because the entire history of the supposition of "white supremacy" is right there in Samson and Delilah's eyes for all to see.
I'm 'lucky' to be white, and the shame of it consumes me.
½ January 12, 2011
Bathed in bright sunshine with interesting visuals, but the story-or lack of one-isn't -It's one the most downbeat, depressing films I've seen - and I've seen ALOT of depressing films that were good- this isn't one of them. I don't agree with the critics here at all.
½ April 20, 2010
Two aboriginal teenagers face hardship in this strikingly beautiful and uncompromising film from Australia featured at New Directors/New Films of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. This very independent film avoids sentimentality and Hollywood convention and is reminiscent of some of the best foreign films from the developing world in the past.
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2009
Australia's official entry to the 2009 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race is actually more English than Aboriginal. But no matter, "Samson & Delilah" is a mildly compelling drama about two young lovers on the run, but the central relationship never quite makes sense.
½ February 11, 2016
Well, the film may make some points but they are not at the advantage of the natives. The story is just plain stupid. The two main characters are simply much too stupid to even exist even amongst the native population. Or, let me phrase it another way, they are too stupid to do some of the intelligent stuff later and vice versa. The whole thing is an ode to the english, for which the natives should be grateful of the invasion. Without englishes, natives are nothing but fainéants, lazy bones. And then they dare in the extras, pretend they are on the side of the natives. Shame on them. Even if the director had native blood. Shame. Beautiful place and actors though. Lots of potential, if we could eliminate the englishes...
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2010
A beautiful and delicate portrait of a brutal reality that is so little known to non-Australians, reaching us through an Aboriginal love story that relies on two amazing performances and smoothly moving from tender to heartbreaking moments.
August 23, 2015
It's like Groundhog day but without the message.
October 12, 2013
What can I say about Samson and Delilah? It's bleak, depressing, gritty, tender, sweet and funny. With barely a word of dialogue spoken throughout you'd be forgiven for thinking it would struggle to pack any heavy emotional punches. Similarly, after reading the synopsis, it would be easy to dismiss it as "poverty porn". Happily, both these assumptions are wrong.

Samson and Delilah could so easily have been another piece of vacuous avant-garde cinema were it not for the talent of its two leads. Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson say more with their faces than other actors do with a thousand words and their naturalness, coupled with the realism of the film, often make this feel like a documentary. Theirs is an unforgiving world of loneliness and social isolation. Yet buried within the poverty, exploitation, boredom, violence and drug abuse are flashes of humour and moments of real tenderness between the two that keep the film from over-indulging in the squalor and decay of Aboriginal culture. If all that sounds a bit schmaltzy rest assured that director Warwick Thornton doesn't go the other way either, and often the happiness experienced by Samson, Delilah and viewer is bitter-sweet. Don't miss this beautifully shot gem of a film.
May 7, 2014
The level of realism is amazing. Easily the best movie I've ever seen in a long time.
½ March 27, 2014
The kind of harrowing topical drama that makes you wish someone had just written a news article instead.
January 25, 2014
A confronting & beautifully shot love story
½ September 23, 2013
Very slow and uninspirational
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