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USA 2007
Directed by
Tom DiCillo
104 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars


Synopsis: Les Galantine (Steve Buscemi) is a self-centred paparazzo. One day, while waiting to get “the big shot” of some passing celebrity, he meets Toby Grace (Michael Pitt), a homeless kid with aspirations to be an actor and a willingness to be of help in return for board and lodging. Toby learns the ropes as Les’s assistant and the two form an odd-couple friendship. But when Toby falls for pop diva K’Harma (Alison Loman), he finds himself torn between loyalty and gratitude to Les and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow his dreams.

This thoroughly entertaining film blends comedy and touching human drama with some fairly incisive things to say about issues ranging from loyalty and friendship through to self-worth and the allure that celebrity status has in today’s society.

Fame and celebrity are actually the backdrop to a story of two very opposing characters. Toby has an innocence along with a strong sense of his own inherent worth. Les, however, is obviously caught between a sense of his own importance and feeling quite worthless in what he does, something both engendered and reinforced by his parents’ total disgust with their son’s job. Les is in fact a member of the lowest part of the celebrity food chain grasping at opportunities to make his name regardless of what distress it causes to his subjects.

Delirious remorselessly contrasts the grungy lifestyles of Les and Toby with the glam world of Les’s subjects. When the film opens, Toby is emerging from a night spent in a dumpster. After meeting Les he pleads for a night out of the cold and is put up in Les’s junk-ridden flea pit of a tenement flat, but which nevertheless provides him with the luxury of a permanent bed, albeit in the closet. The rich and famous on the other hand swan around, living permanently in luxurious hotels and riding in limousines. Everyone in this film is looking to use someone else in one way or another either as a stepping stone to something greater or as an emotional support.

For all the broadness of contrast, di Cillo never totally stereotypes his characters. We soon see that Toby is not all sweetness and light, while K’Harma is more vulnerable than one would expect. Les, no matter how obnoxious he may seem ultimately manages also to elicit our sympathy (well, a little of it!). These three central characters are all brought to life by a trio of terrific performances. Buscemi, who also starred in DiCillo’s 1995 Living in Oblivion, is brilliant at playing infuriating, slightly manic characters, and he has a deft touch with comedy whilst retaining his pathetic hang-dog manner. Pitt is the cutest homeless person one could hope to meet and his charm with the women is evident. Lohman is incredibly spunky as the pop star who’s famous mostly for her sex appeal and sitting around all day in skimpy underwear. The ever-sultry Gina Gershon puts in a good turn as the publicist and older woman who takes Toby under more than her wing while a cameo by Elvis Costello as himself is a lot of fun.

There are plenty of laughs to be had, both in dialogue and situationally. Possibly Di Cillo, who both wrote and directed the film, opts for a over-soft ending. After the ironic bite and lampooning of celebs and their pursuers, the denouement is a little too neatly resolved. But little matter – over all, Delirious is delicious fun.




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