The Delta

on August 15, 1997 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   Set in the new South, this pedestrian and amateurish drama looks at the gay life of two individuals in the Mississippi Delta. One, a white suburban teen (Shayne Gray) who has a girlfriend, is given to sneaking off to pick up male hustlers. A Vietnamese man (Thang Chan) with whom he gets involved at the film's beginning falls in love with him, and the two undertake an odd, uncertain relationship that ends in tragedy.
   The American South remains an underused subject of stateside film, and its gay aspects have remained almost completely untouched. But "The Delta" is such a flat, slow and uninflected movie that it undermines any provocative observations it would like to make. Shot in 16mm, with nonpros as actors (writer/director Ira Sachs met his leads in a pool hall), "The Delta" leaves no impression at all, so its interest to audiences, whether straight or gay, is likely to be negligible.    Starring Shayne Gray and Thang Chan. Directed and written by Ira Sachs. Produced by Margot Bridger. A Strand release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 80 min. Screened at the Toronto fest.
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