Tag Archives: Marisa Tomei

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Delia’s Gone

by Brandon Thomas

Louis (Stephan James of If Beale Street Could Talk and Race) lives a fairly idyllic existence with his sister, Delia (Genelle Williams), in rural Ohio. Despite having suffered a traumatic brain injury earlier in his life, Louis is mostly self-sufficient – even holding down a full-time job at the local hardware store. Things unravel quickly when Delia tells Louis she’s moving away for work, and the angry Louis wakes up the next morning to find a dead Delia in the kitchen and blood all over his hands. 

The plot of Delia’s Gone moves quickly and in surprising directions. What begins as a standard drama quickly morphs into a revenge thriller. By centering around a somewhat volatile protagonist, Delia’s Gone positions itself as one of the more thought-provoking thrillers in quite some time.

So many of these movies are outlets for violent vengeance. Delia’s Gone has its fair share of violent scenes, but they land heavy and with earned emotion. The violence here isn’t gratuitous nor meant to be exploitative. No, Louis’s actions throughout the latter half of the film are in search of something greater: truth.  

Director Robert Budreau (Born to be Blue, Stockholm) wisely lets his film lean on an extraordinary cast to propel it forward instead of the “by the numbers” story. Whatever twists Delia’s Gone has are revealed early and without much fanfare. The real surprises come from the characters’ decisions and how they impact one another.

As of late, it’s become quite a welcome sight to see Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya, Richard Jewell) show up in any movie. As one of the primary police characters in the film, Hauser plays the role a bit too comedic at times, but the humanity that exudes from the performance is too much to ignore. Hauser brings enough vulnerability to the role for the comedic tics to feel like a by-product of a man reaching for validation. 

It’s been nice seeing Marisa Tomei propelled back into the spotlight the last few years due to her involvement with the new Spider-Man movies. Tomei flexes her dramatic chops here, reminding us why she’s an Oscar winner. It’s a role that could have easily been played as stereotypical “hard-nosed cop,” but Tomei injects so much pathos into the performance that it’s hard not to come at her scenes with a heavy dose of empathy.

The real winner is James. He wowed us in 2018 in If Beale Street Could Talk, and his work here is equally impressive. This role could have gone wrong in so many ways. To say that playing a person with a traumatic brain injury is a minefield in 2022 is an understatement, but James approaches the role with sensitivity and nuance. There’s always a sense of the “old Louis” behind James’s eyes – especially in the scenes where Louis is filled with frustration. It’s heartbreaking and riveting at the same time. 

By side-stepping many of the trappings of the genre, Delia’s Gone manages to come out on the other side as a thoughtful examination of searching for truth and forgiving one’s self.

Great Again

The First Purge

by Hope Madden

Is it me, or does Independence Day feel a little tough to celebrate this year? Is there a downward spiral going on that seems like the backstory of a dystopian SciFi novel? One where the Supreme Court finally crumbles to an administration that embraces white supremacy, gun violence and toxic masculinity?

Oh, it’s not just me, then?

You want to see a movie?

Five years ago, writer/director James DeMonaco spun a tale of a government-sanctioned, pseudo-religious night of violence meant to purge us of our evil. The Purge turned out to be a cautionary tale: if we’re not careful, this could happen.

Three films later, allegories are cast aside. From tiki torches to pussy grabbers, this is Trump’s America.

The First Purge takes us back to the experiment that set off the once-annual night of mayhem. A test, funded by the NRA and backed by the far-right government, is carried out on Staten Island.

DeMonaco returns to write the latest installment, but for the first time he hands off directing duties. Gerard McMurray makes his feature directing debut with a film that does not mix messages.

The African American director and his primarily African American cast take us inside a film that, if it’s not America today, it’s America of like three weeks from now.

DeMonaco didn’t have to work too hard for his script. From robed Klansmen to unrepentant, officially-sanctioned police officers with badges and billy clubs, to doughy white political mouthpieces altering facts to further their agenda, DeMonaco pulls nightmares from reality and pastes them together in a world that’s almost more comforting in that it’s supposed to be fantasy.

McMurray struggles a bit with action sequences, although, as he follows one misguided young man, he does manage a funhouse atmosphere that creates a giddy tension.

His cast, including Lex Scott Davis, Y’lan Noel and Marisa Tomei, offer entirely solid performances in fairly underwritten roles. Meanwhile, Rotimi Paul cuts an impressive figure as Skeletor, one of the few citizens of Staten Island genuinely interested in participating in the experiment.

McMurray and DeMonaco are not all gloom and doom. Mercifully, they root their story in a realistic optimism that we, the citizens of the United States—potential voters, all—are not as easily manipulated as the powerful may think. We are not sheep. Not one of us is expendable and we outnumber them.

God bless America.