After nabbing the Camera d'Or award at Cannes in 2009, Warwick Thornton's modest little story about two Indigenous teens had been hailed as ground zero for a glorious new wave in Australian cinema. For once, the hyperbole seems justified: Charting the relationship of a gas-sniffing boy(McNamara) and a young woman (Gibson) in a run-down rural community, this stellar regional take on l'amour fou displays a fresh but fully formed sensibility. It's like an Aboriginal version of Head-On, complete with punkish wild-child energy, culture clashes and the sort of self-destructive downward spirals that usually spell doom for young lovers.
Tragedy does loom large on the horizon, especially once the two hightail it to the big city (where the movie's few concessions to melodrama offer the mildest of missteps). Yet even at its most fatalistic, Samson and Delilah never rubs your nose in misery for misery's sake. There's an unerring sense that the oddball bond between these misfit soulmates will keep them together, but also that it's the only thing preventing a harsh world from swallowing them both whole. And by the time Thornton has deftly flipped the script regarding the titular Biblical parable's misogyny, you'll feel as if Aussie cinema has indeed discovered its next great voice.
Watch the trailer