Delirious (2006)

Writer/Director: Tom DiCillo
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Alison Lohman, Gina Gershon, Elvis Costello, Callie Thorne, David Wain, Cinque Lee.
Awards: Best Director, Best Screenplay; San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival. Best Picture; HBO Aspen Comedy Arts Festival, Special Jury Prize;Istanbul Intl. Film Festival, Signis Grand Prize; Best Film.
Festivals: Sundance, Seattle, Aspen, San Sebastian.
US Distribution: Peace Arch.
Related blog posts: Many, starting with the very first and running up until around Arrest at Ebertfest.


I wrote this film specifically for Steve Buscemi. It took him over a year to finally agree to play the lead, NYC paparazzo Les Galantine, but once he said yes I knew I had a movie. This film stands out for me emotionally and artistically like Living In Oblivion. I feel I put equal parts of my soul into both films.

It is beyond my ability to comprehend how Buscemi’s performance in the film was not more widely recognized. I think it is one of his most dimensional and courageous. And the rest of the cast is equally superb. Gina Gershon is a total trip, revealing a sexy, comic verve that cracks like a whip. Alison Lohman dove headfirst into pop diva K’arma Leeds, bringing a great warmth and depth to this lost soul.

Some of my most enjoyable moments were watching Callie Thorne and David Wain together as K’arma’s publicist and manager. Michael Pitt plays Toby, a young kid who stumbles into stardom. Gina Gershon plays Dana, his manager who has more than a professional interest in him. In a key scene Dana tells an agent that his client can’t be in Toby’s next film because, “Her star is nowhere near his orbit.”

When my first film Johnny Suede was about to be released we received a request from GQ Magazine to do a photo spread with Brad Pitt and Alison Moir, the unknown but delightful co-star of of the film. The request never got to Brad and was turned down by his publicist with the declaration, “Her star is nowhere near his orbit.” To which I returned, “True, but I think your moon is in Uranus.”

I didn’t say that. But I was so stupefied by the publicist’s orbit line I put it in Delirious verbatim. The line about Uranus was actually incorporated into Living In Oblivion, spoken by Catherine Keener and followed by a masterful spit-take from Danielle Von Zerneck.

I chose the title Delirious primarily because it means, “A state of happiness so intense it verges on being crazy.” It seemed like a good word to describe the people in the film. They don’t want to just be happy–they want to be so happy they’re almost insane. I wrote the film because I was interested in how damaged people fit into the structure of fame in this country; from those that occupy the lowest rungs (the paparazzi) to those that theoretically occupy the highest (the stars).

The DVD of Delirious contains the Director’s Cut of the film as well as a Director’s Commentary. In addition it offers the full version of Alison Lohman’s performance of my song “Take Your Love And Shove It.” There is also a 20 minute featurette called Stalking Delirious on the making of the film with Steve Buscemi and Tom DiCillo. And finally, there are 3 Prohibited Promos that were secretly made to help promote the film; Casting Michael Pitt, Steve Buscemi is Pissed and the Gina Gershon Sex Tape.

Little piece of trivia: Delirious really did screen at the the Playboy Mansion in early September, 2007. Hugh Hefner genuinely liked the film and at his encouragement it was included in Playboy with a positive review. Read the semi-fictional account here.


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