The Delta

An earnest, almost unwatchable first film about sexual identity in the gay-unfriendly South. Lincoln (Shayne Gray) is the soft-spoken, soft-bodied son of middle-class Memphis, secure in his social status but groping to understand his sexuality: He has a sweet, pretty girlfriend (Rachel Zan Huss), but also cruises for sex with men. Minh (Thang Chan) is a...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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An earnest, almost unwatchable first film about sexual identity in the gay-unfriendly South. Lincoln (Shayne Gray) is the soft-spoken, soft-bodied son of middle-class Memphis, secure in his social status but groping to understand his sexuality: He has a

sweet, pretty girlfriend (Rachel Zan Huss), but also cruises for sex with men. Minh (Thang Chan) is a recent immigrant, the son of a Vietnamese woman and an African-American GI, poor, without prospects and an outcast no matter where he goes. Minh and Lincoln cross paths as they cruise the seedy

bars, porn parlors and dark roadsides that constitute Memphis's gay scene, and their relationship -- formed across a gulf of divergent expectations and experiences -- is doomed from the start. Writer-director Ira Sachs appears more interested in atmosphere than narrative, and rock-bottom

production values and amateurish acting (perhaps it's fairer to say amateur: the cast is composed entirely of nonprofessionals) undermine the film's slight story. The hugely distracting graininess of many images is a real problem -- some scenes look almost as though they were shot

underwater -- and the muffled sound is another: Conversations involving more than two people (particularly if there's background music) are just about incomprehensible. Sachs obviously intends to add depth and resonance with subtle observations about the way lives are shaped by money, class, race,

age and sexual orientation, but they're lost in the murk. Judged on its apparent intentions, this is a admirable work, and it's hard not to admire the ingenuity and determination it must have taken to get it made at all. But judged on its achievement, it's hardly worth watching.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An earnest, almost unwatchable first film about sexual identity in the gay-unfriendly South. Lincoln (Shayne Gray) is the soft-spoken, soft-bodied son of middle-class Memphis, secure in his social status but groping to understand his sexuality: He has a s… (more)

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