Agently attitudinous, generally zippy urban fairy tale about pop stars and the hangers-on who coddle (or prey upon) them, Tom DiCillo’s
Delirious is a mild Midnight Cowboy, a minor King of Comedy, and mainly a vehicle for Steve Buscemi as a lower Manhattan–based paparazzo. Not entirely by accident, a dumb, sweet, homeless hunk (Michael Pitt) becomes an unpaid intern for the irascible photographer (seedy even by Buscemi standards), then manages to connect with one of the celebrity-stalker’s subjects, a Spearsoid mediocrity played by Alison Lohman. Pitt falls in love with the singer’s image and is swept into a VIP world where the camera mediates every emotion, particularly once he is adopted by Gina Gershon’s predatory casting director. DiCillo has a feel for this milieu—the “Soap Stars Against STD” banquet and a scene in which two cell-wielding flacks negotiate their clients’ impending rope-line reunion are minor classics—as well as an eye for downtown glamour. (His 1991 feature
Johnny Suede gave then–TV actor Brad Pitt his first starring role; that film also established Catherine Keener’s screen persona.) As a director, DiCillo has an evident rapport with his actors. Lohman demonstrates a hitherto unexplored comic timing in the mock music video “Take Your Love and Shove It.” But it’s Buscemi who imbues the movie with a scabrous pathos that is scarcely mitigated by the final flash-bulb white-out. A former cinematographer, DiCillo has always made visually fastidious movies. Perhaps this is the case with Delirious, but I can’t be sure—demonstrating a
brainless contempt for everyone concerned, the movie’s PR firm chose to
press-screen a cruddy digital transfer branded throughout with the
frame-wide inscription “Property of Peace Arch Films.”