With Delirious, Tom DiCillo puts our national obsession with fame under the magnifying glass, and what he spies is a bunch of people in desperate need of attention, approval, and friendship. Not found, however, is a humorous means of exposing and examining this unhealthy fixation on Access Hollywood-era celebrity promotion. Maybe it’s that the film’s commentary is rather straightforward, or maybe it’s the indie cruddiness of the director’s aesthetic, but there’s no getting around the fact that DiCillo’s blunt satire is a good five years too late, lampooning easy targets—the paparazzi, pop starlets, reality TV—with stolid equitability. Everyone gets skewered in Delirious, which focuses on the unlikely friendship between egotistical shutterbug Les (Steve Buscemi) and homeless wannabe actor Toby (Michael Pitt), as well as Toby’s even-more-unlikely romance with Britney Spears clone K’harma (Alison Lohman). Dicillo spends lots of energy depicting Les as a deluded, pathetic scumbag who brags about having De Niro’s phone number and likes to refer to himself as a “licensed professional,” while positing K’harma as a ditzy no-talent whose preferred ensemble is a bra and sunglasses. If these dull characterizations aren’t enough, soap stars and sycophantic celeb managers are also broadly mocked, with the story’s overriding view of showbiz falling far short of the nuanced, incisive, and humorous perspective offered by the director’s breakthrough Living in Oblivion. Les and Toby’s early contentiousness does produce a few modest laughs, and Buscemi seems to be having a good time bugging his eyes out and acting like a cretin. But just as his photographer quickly devolves into an irritating pest, the film’s eventual decision to portray Les and Toby as akin to a romantic couple leads to maudlin squabbling as well as leaden pop psychology—though Delirious‘s lesson about not trying (or expecting) to derive self-worth from others is probably a lesson it should take to heart.
- Peace Arch Entertainment
- 106 min
- Tom DiCillo
- Tom DiCillo
- Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Alison Lohman, Gina Gershon, Callie Thorne, Kevin Corrigan, Richard Short, Evlis Costello, David Wain
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: