Respected actor Mark Ruffalo moves behind the camera for the first time with Sympathy for Delicious, a gritty religious story that’s unafraid to ask important questions about faith, responsibility, and ethics.
The movie follows Dean (Christopher Thornton, who also wrote the script), a paraplegic, homeless DJ who performs under the name “Delicious D.” One day he accidentally discovers he has the power to heal people simply by laying hands on them. Father Joe (Ruffalo), the priest who runs the skid-row shelter Dean frequents, encourages Dean to use these powers selflessly, even though Dean isn’t sure how he feels about his newfound talent. However, Joe soon begins accepting substantial contributions to the shelter in return for giving people access to Dean, and Dean sees the opportunity to make big bucks with his celestial gift. To that end, he joins a local band led by charismatic, self-centered singer “The Stain” (Orlando Bloom), who sees Dean as a gimmick that will make his band famous. Just when it looks like Dean’s on the road to fame and fortune, an unexpected tragedy forces the DJ and the priest to confront each other again.
It’s no surprise that, as a director, Mark Ruffalo knows how to get first-rate performances, especially from Mark Ruffalo the actor. Father Joe is a complicated character, driven to help as many people as possible, yet blind to how doing so may actually violate his beliefs. But the director is also acutely aware that this is Dean’s story first and foremost, and by shooting Thornton in close-up much of the time, Ruffalo allows us to sense Dean’s shifting and occasionally volatile emotions, and the character’s evolution always seems gradual and logical thanks to Thornton’s vulnerable performance. The film is at its best when Joe and Dean grapple with the ramifications of Dean’s gift and their individual reactions to it.
The scenes where these two gifted performers go toe to toe -- especially their climactic confrontation -- are the stuff acting aficionados can’t get enough of. That said, the best scenes have the feel of a play adapted for the screen; Ruffalo relies on close-ups and two-shots rather than camera movement to tell his story. Yet that shouldn’t come as a surprise; Ruffalo is smart to play to his strengths with actors, and the entire cast are all more than talented enough to hold the film together. Sympathy for Delicious gives us two memorable lead performances, an array of stellar supporting work (Laura Linney, John Carroll Lynch, Noah Emmerich, and especially Juliette Lewis), and the suspicion that Mark Ruffalo has a career behind the camera if he wants it.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2010
- Rating: NR
- Review: Respected actor Mark Ruffalo moves behind the camera for the first time with Sympathy for Delicious, a gritty religious story that’s unafraid to ask important questions about faith, responsibility, and ethics. The movie follows Dean (Christopher Thornt… (more)