Facts and Figures
Run time: 96 mins
In Theaters: Friday 9th August 1991
Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 5.7 / 10
Buscemi's character in Tom DiCillo's Delirious is Les Galantine, a "licensed professional" photographer who is undistinguished even by paparazzi standards and ratlike even by Buscemi standards. An irritable loner, Les roams alleys and back entrances with a pack of similar-minded (but slightly less desperate) shutterbugs, grasping for shots of stars like pop sensation D'Harma (Alison Lohman). It's at one of these melees that he bumps into the genially homeless Toby (Michael Pitt); soon Toby has a reluctant, unstable ally and a place to stay. Les, in turn, has someone to listen to his rants and delusions, and to accompany him on sad visits to his elderly parents -- unimpressed, of course, with his published pictures.
Though we sense that most of Les's friendships will strain sooner rather than later without outside factors, a rift develops between Les and Toby when the young protégé makes actual human contact with D'Harma. The beatific Toby, against any number of odds, begins to fulfill what could be a paparazzo's twisted fantasy: He actually makes it to the other side of the lens, capturing D'Harma's fancy and becoming, if not a genuine superstar, at least the kind of guy who might eventually appear on MTV or VH1 during weekend marathons. Les can only simmer with resentment, occasionally exploding into self-sabotaging fits of bad behavior.
Throughout all of this, and despite the repetition inevitable in dealing with a character as compulsively stuck as Les, Delirious finds tiny moments of insight and, in its pointy way, entertainment. The performances are key here, not just Buscemi's typically fearless work but also Pitt's application of his slightly dreamy, occasionally creepy angel-faced shtick. Alison Lohman has fun with what has become a modern comedy standby: the Britney-Shakira-Ashlee-whoever hybrid, previously played by Anna Faris (Just Friends), Haley Bennett (Music and Lyrics), and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Southland Tales). The quasi-spiritual pop tart may have gone a little stale as a comic conceit, but Lohman finds the right degree of dippiness to lend her attraction to Toby a certain plausibility.
It's not that DiCillo's film says much about the orbit of celebrity that we haven't heard before -- it's fleeting and shallow yet can generate an entire industry in its outer rims. But as a character study, it's unflinching in the way it regards both the humor (Les stores Toby in the closet of his shabby apartment) and misery (the closet doesn't seem much worse than the rest of it) of its characters. The film isn't as broadly funny as the previous DiCillo-Buscemi collaboration Living in Oblivion, but its outsiders peering in have an uncomfortable resonance.