Director: Ira Sachs
Running time: 83 minsUSA
Screenplay: Ira Sachs
Production co: Charlie Guidance Productions
Producer: Margot Bridger
Photography: Benjamin P Speth
Editor: Affonso Gonçalves
Production design: Bernhard Blythe
Art director: Yin Ling Wong
Sound design: Tom Efinger, Damian Volpe
Music: Michael Rohatyn
Lincoln Bloom: Shayne Grey
Monh Nguyen (`John'): Thang Chan
Monica: Rachel Zan Huss
Ricky Little: Colonius Davis
It turns out we're going home with Lincoln, a handsome, 17-year-old. In broad daylight Lincoln might pass for the perfect young WASP, except that his surname is Bloom. And though he hangs out with straight friends and has a girlfriend, whom he harasses constantly for sex, the first thing we ever found out about Lincoln was that he's drawn to the town's furtive gay scene.
In a porno theatre he's picked up by an older man, a recent immigrant from Vietnam, and they leave town together, taking the Bloom family boat down the Mississippi. It's a discordant, attenuated affair, Huckleberry Finn for the 1990s. While the white boy denies both his privilege and his every transgressive impulse with consummate blankness, the Vietnamese man runs a constant and aggressive commentary on his own marginal status in a new land - and his alienation from heterosexual expectation in the old one.
Just as both these characters in their very different ways seem wilfully disconnected, we sense that key events are being withheld from us by the filmmaker - until, in the film's extraordinary last section, a final piece falls into place and pulls the picture into perfect, scary coherence.
Sachs cites heightened social realists John Cassevetes and Mike Leigh as his inspirations and has, like them, allowed his actors to inform and shape the work. But the directors I was instantly reminded of command a more sophisticated mise-en-scène: the Claire Denis of J'ai pas sommeil and the Tsiao Ming Liang of Rebels of a Neon God. Like these films, The Delta is both tantalisingly oblique and strikingly evocative of place. Sachs grew up in Memphis and he savours its seductive atmospheres - while evincing an enthralled horror at the depth of denial and racial inequity he locates so securely - and in such disturbingly sexual terms. — BG
Moody and unpredictable, The Delta holds your attention the same way snakes are said to hypnotise rabbits... Its deft construction and completely original story defy predictability and fascinate. — Chris Berry, Melbourne Film Festival 1996