Mark Ruffalo’s Directorial Debut, Sympathy for Delicious Needs More Magic, Less Magic DJ


An urban parable in the underlit indie tradition, Sympathy for Delicious treats sketchy, moribund storytelling as divine inspiration. First-time director Mark Ruffalo has assembled an exceptional cast—Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney, um, Mark Ruffalo—to surround writer and star Christopher Thornton, but a script that favors incident over story and direction that crowds scenes instead of letting them breathe make for curiously rough going. Former hipster DJ Dean O’Dwyer (Thornton) is a paraplegic who frequents the skids of Los Angeles, hoping, along with everyone under the jurisdiction of street priest Father Roselli (Ruffalo), to be saved. Dean is prickly and obscure, a Greenberg with actual problems. But in this L.A., hurt people heal people, and soon Father Roselli is pimping out Dean’s magical, health-restoring hands—a neat trick discovered by accident, they help everyone but Dean—to fill the church coffer. Disillusioned, Dean joins a band fronted by Bloom in slinky, sexy Jesus mode, and helps turn the band’s club sets into revival meetings, with a fame-hungry healer as the central attraction. Without Lewis, who pockets the few scenes she’s in with her absurd, exotic-bird dignity and Quaalude drone, not even “Delicious D” can save the film from its anti-climactic moral reckoning.