Tag Archives: Robert Budreau

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.

Sympathy for the Devil


by Hope Madden

It’s amazing to think that a film has never been made of the heist that created the term “Stockholm Syndrome.”

Well, writer/director Robert Budreau has rectified this situation with his Ethan Hawke-led semi comedy, Stockholm.

Hawke, who starred in Budreau’s 2015 Chet Baker biopic Born to Be Blue, plays Lars Nystrom. A bewigged bandit, Nystrom concocts a 1973 bank heist with different goals than your traditional smash and grab.

By taking a couple of hostages, Lars hopes to win the freedom of his best friend, imprisoned bank robber Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong).

The always-welcome Strong creates a tender and level-headed counterpoint to Hawke’s endearing, idealistic dumbass. The lead wheel to the film’s cinematic tricycle comes from the quietly powerful work of Noomi Rapace (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Playing Bianca Lind, one of Nystrom’s hostages, Rapace’s plaintive performance suggests a character who relies on observation and personal judgment. Never showy, Rapace becomes the gravitational force that tethers flighty characters and wild antics to a realistic foundation.

Budreau seems to be asking himself how it’s possible for captives to choose to side with their captors. Credit the filmmaker for avoiding the pitfall of casting the authorities as one-dimensional bullies or buffoons. Christopher Heyerdahl is particularly effective as Chief Mattsson, a good man who’s n a bit over his head.

Stockholm’s greatest strength, besides the understated playfulness of its cast, is the light touch Budreau brings to presenting the two sides of the standoff. And yet, in the end, he ensures that we the audience do, indeed, feel more compelled by the outlaws.

It’s a subtle act of manipulation perpetrated by Budreau, but not so terrible as to sink the film. The filmmaker’s real miss is in his superficial look at the environment within the vault that brought the captives and captors together.

Thanks to a fine cast that’s able to toe Budreau’s unusual line between comedy and drama, though, you’ll find yourself strangely fond of everyone involved.