Sometimes indie movies can catch you off guard. As you're watching you slowly realize that this is a great piece of cinema. A movie that wasn't released to the masses, but should be seen by everyone. 'Sympathy for Delicious' isn't that kind of indie movie.
Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut premiered at Sundance earlier this year. I didn't see it then, but I did hear people talking about how poor it was, how much they wanted to walk out of it, and how unbelievably bad Ruffalo (a very fine actor) could be as a director. The word of mouth scared me away from going to see it, and I was right to stay away.
Dean O'Dwyer is played by Christopher Thronton who also penned the script. Dean, more commonly known by his DJ stage name, "Delicious," is crippled and homeless. He spends his time in his car under a freeway overpass. Each morning her joins the food line where Father Joe (Ruffalo) hands out meals for the homeless. Joe just wants to help any way he can. Dean feels life owes him some kind of favor.
Then, out of the blue one day, Dean figures out he can heal people with his touch. Instead of thinking about the good he can do with his newfound gift, he decides that this is definitely worth some money. He uses his new power to join a rock band fronted by The Stain (Orlando Bloom). Yes, that's his real name, The Stain. He's quite appropriately named since he's a gigantic untreatable splotch on this dreary movie. Bloom channels his best Sid Vicious impersonation, which just comes across as super corny. Also in the band is Ariel (Juliette Lewis) who's a drugged out junkie who wants to give Dean a shot. Finally, rounding out the well-known cast is Laura Linney as Nina, the band's manager.
Everyone involved in this movie is a seasoned actor. They've all been in their share or great movies or TV shows. So, why is it that none of them can see what a giant waste of time this movie is? Why can't they understand that this asinine script makes them all sound like first timers? Why can't Ruffalo keep scenes contained instead of letting them fly so out of control? 'Sympathy for Delicious' is a cinematic mystery. Somewhere, buried deep under the stilted dialogue and awful pacing is a decent story. A story about a man who doesn't know how to handle the gift he's been given. Essentially the basis to every superhero movie out there. Instead of shooting for the lofty goals the movie has set for itself, it fires towards the gutters of the world. The scenes here make little sense in the grand scheme of things. They never come close to making us care about the characters on screen or Dean's plight.
'Sympathy for Delicious' is just an odd experience all around. It feels flat, like it's trying way too hard for that indie vibe. Ruffalo tries too hard to make his film fit in with the stereotypical festival films. It just doesn't work here. There's no emotion and there are no characters worth caring about. The movie continuously jumps from one plot point to another without any segues. We're hurried along through the story without being able to stop and take it all in – which in retrospect is a good thing, as I would have been unable to spend another minute with these loathsome, boring characters.
The ensemble cast may draw your attention, and you may even want to know what Mark Ruffalo is like as a director, but you've been warned. Know this, if you pick up 'Sympathy for Delicious' despite my warnings, then I have no sympathy for you.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Sympathy for Delicious' is a Maya Entertainment release. It comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase on a 25-GB Blu-ray Disc with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
Attack of the dark and dreary indie look! 'Sympathy for Delicious' is not so much bathed as flooded with shadowy photography because that's just how dramatic indie movies look. The 1080p picture while clear and precise during the day, loses much of its impact during darkly lit scenes.
The day time scenes are strong and clear, but still lack that intricate detail we've come to expect from the format. Where individual hairs on beards and moustaches may be visible in a better presentation, here they kind of group together as one without distinct edges. Skin tones waver from bronze-ish to dull grays depending on the movie's lighting. Many of the stylistic choices here resulted in the lifeless look of the movie as a whole, but it does have its faults.
Crushing is a common perpetrator here. Shadows swallow up faces, people, and objects at night or in dimly lit concert venues. Instead of accentuating detail, shadows block it out. Covering any sort of nuanced detail that may be there. I wasn't overly impressed with the look of 'Sympathy for Delicious,' partly because of the source material shortcomings, and partly because the 1080p picture just isn't up to snuff.
'Sympathy for Delicious' features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. It's a disappointing audio presentation at best.
Voices vary in consistency going from intelligible to garbled warbles whenever there's more action going on around the conversation. The music from the band drowns out just about everything else that is happening, which is extremely annoying. Rears are disappointingly reserved even during concert scenes with screaming fans, or as a group of people surround Dean, waiting to be healed.
This lossless track isn't going to impress anyone. Not even the movie's fans.
What a mess. You get the sense a better movie is trying its best to bubble up to the surface, but it never quite makes it. It's tough to dislike this one so much since there are so many likable actors involved, especially Ruffalo, who is one of the best character actors out there. Sadly, directing isn't his forte. He simply lets this movie get out of hand. The average video and below average audio should seal the deal. There's nothing worth seeing here. One to avoid.