Movie Review By Andrea Chase
What "The Delta" captures so perfectly is the monotony of life lived in the anything but fast lane of Memphis, Tennessee. It's boredom punctuated with desperation. Add gay, or at least sexually confused as our hero, Lincoln is and the constant hum of mosquitoes and endless chatter about nothing in particular transcends unbearable. When he tell someone that his mother ran off with a freak from California, you can't help but sense the envy there.
A night in Lincoln's life goes like this. He fights with his girlfriend over nothing during a painfully dull party, gets picked up by an unctuous businessman from out of town, and ends up at a sex arcade. There he's latched onto by Minh. They're slightly acquainted after having indulged in a roadside grope the night before. Minh, half african-american, half vietnamese and gay is an outsider everywhere he goes. Lincoln himself, dabbling in bisexuality is also an outsider of sorts. And in a place where being blunt is bad manners, Minh is refreshingly direct. Lincoln is fascinated. It's enough of a common ground to start a relationship.
The two depart for a weekend boat ride down the Mississippi where the black and white communities are both confused by the sight of this unlikely pair. It's only later, when Lincoln returns to his comfortable middle-class hetero life and Minh to his sinkhole of an existence that the true gulf between them becomes apparent. And their reactions to returning to those lives are interesting, but not really surprising.
This is a film that is deliberately slow and deliberately unglamorous. The camera observes without commenting on action that takes its own sweet time to unfold. The stars, Shayne Gray and Thang Chan are both first-time performers. They're natural and unstudied yet comfortable in front of the camera.
"The Delta" is a disturbing, sad idyll about alienation and casual bigotry. No one's too happy to begin with and there's precious little hope of any improvement - real southern gothic for the nineties.
© 1997 • Andrea Chase • Air Date: 11/05/97
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