Ruffalo’s film won a Special Jury Prize at an Awards Ceremony that bypassed some expected winners —Blue Valentine, for one.
A personal relationship is at the heart of Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut, Sympathy for Delicious. Ruffalo and actor/screenwriter Christopher Thornton have been friends for years. After a mountain climbing accident in 1992 that left him in a wheelchair, Thornton started an early version of a screenplay about a paralyzed homeless man with faith healing powers. At Ruffalo’s bachelor party, the actor proposed to Thornton that he direct the movie, and further development occurred with, as Ruffalo said in his Q&A, nearly half the script being reworked yet again just weeks before production. Thornton stars as the paraplegic healer and turntablist, and Ruffalo is the homeless shelter priest who is tempted to exploit their relationship. And then there’s rock stars Orlando Bloom and Juliette Lewis, for whom the spectacle of faith healing is nothing more than a marketing hook. While, Sympathy for Delicious has a few awkward, over-the-top dramatic beats, it also has a refreshingly unpredictable narrative that feels exactly like the outgrowth of a complicated friendship. Chris Norr’s cinematography is vividly expressionistic, Thornton gives a passionate and urgent performance, and Ruffalo’s direction is audacious.