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.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 27, 2011