If you’re looking for Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr, you’re in the wrong “Samson and Delilah.” This film takes place in the Australian Outback, where Aboriginal teenagers Samson and Delilah live in a crummy shantytown. Samson does not appear to have a family or any means of support, while Delilah lives with an elderly grandmother who creates Aboriginal folk art that is sold for great sums in metropolitan galleries – but the nasty ol’ white guys that run the art racket only give granny a teeny percent of the sales.
Through circumstances that are best not explained in detail, the teens leave their isolated poverty and move into the fringes of mainstream Australian society. They shoplift food from convenience stores and seek shelter under a bridge, where a verbose alcoholic nutcase becomes their new neighbor.
Director/writer Warwick Thornton graduated from short films to make “Samson and Delilah” his first feature. Sadly, he makes the mistake that hobbles too many new filmmakers: an overindulgence on arresting visuals (the cinematography, handled by Thornton, is unusually accomplished) but a deficit of compelling storytelling (the film moves so damn slow that maintaining patience becomes a struggle). It also doesn’t help that neither of the young leads – nonprofessionals Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson – seem to have any idea how to act.
Does the Australian Aboriginal population have it rough? You bet! But a dull film like “Samson and Delilah” doesn’t make their situation any better.